After the Township of West Milford Council recently discussed permitting two-family homes and townhouses in zones where not now permitted, the Council referred the matter to the West Milford Planning Board for study. The board will reexamine the township Master Plan and update it if it is not in conformity.
After determining the status, a resolution approved by the Council asks the board to update the Master Plan if they find it nonconforming. The Council’s resolution went on to say that. assuming permitting two-family homes and townhouses is in conformity, either with the existing Master Plan or upon update, the Council might introduce an ordinance that would allow for such change consistent with the Master Pan.
When the resolution (Resolution 2022-117) with the request to the Planning Board was discussed earlier, Councilwoman Ada Erick was the only council member to vote against passing it. Erick said she opposes allowing of building of townhouses where she believes they should not be built.
These units usually are sold and not rented, Erick said. There was discussion about fire hazards and current zoning.
Mayor Michele Dale indicated that school enrollment is declining, which cuts down on funding to offset costs. She believes that the current situation with a business on the first floor and a rental unit allowed on the second floor makes sense. Erick mentioned the earlier water availability studies that former township officials had authorized and conducted. She said this is a significant factor. Erick reported that the studies showed that the maximum number of wells that could be built without creating a water sufficiency problem was 9,000. She added that there are 11,000 wells currently in existence.
Mayor Dale responded that it may require even more water for a building that has commercial space on the first floor with a second-floor dwelling unit. It was noted that the requirement for commercial space below a dwelling unit costs a builder much more money in the township than it does in surrounding towns.
Councilman David Marsden’s opinion was that allowing the two-family homes and townhouses in all zones, as was being proposed, might fill a need, as there are not many rental properties currently available. Councilman Michael Chazukow reminded his colleagues that the purpose of the resolution was to send the proposal to the Planning Board for their review. He said any safety concerns could be addressed later.