On Thursday, February 13, the Verona Board of Adjustment approved plans for a new home at 20 Mountainview Road that will replace the circa 1880 residence now on the lot.
The new home is being built by Gabriel Campos, who has lived in Verona with his family for 21 years. He had to go before the Board to get variances for the new home’s front yard setback and building height. At 34 feet, the proposed height of the new home is just one foot higher than the current home on the lot, but because of the way building heights are calculated in Verona’s master zoning plan, a new home might be limited to only 20 feet. Campos told the Board that the calculation does not take into account the sloping nature of his property, and noted that there were homes with roof lines as high as 33 feet on his side of Mountainview. (The new home that is being built at 17 Belleclaire Place in the Afterglow section also had to get a height variance because of the property’s grading.)
Most of the new home will be set back 47 feet from Mountainview, which is a side street off Sunset Avenue between Verona Park and the Montclair Golf Club. The current home is only 19 feet from the road, and the zoning code now calls for 35 feet. But a variance was needed because the attached garage for the new home, pictured above, sits forward of the main house.
Campos told the Board that the new home, which was designed by his father, would be about 2,400 square feet, compared with about 1,700 square feet for the current home. (The house, which has five bedrooms and three bathrooms was listed for sale at $569,000; it isn’t known what the closing price was.) Township Construction Official Tom Jacobsen said that the current home, which is unoccupied, had been condemned by his department because of a water leak. The lot could have been subdivided to accommodate two or three new houses.
Several residents of Mountainview Road were present at the meeting to ask questions. As with the Belleclaire house, they were generally receptive to the plans, although there were concerns raised about the environmental impact of the demolition and construction, particularly the potential for additional storm run-off because of changes to the property’s grading. The Board of Adjustment cannot base decisions on those issues, but said it would make a review of the grading by Verona Township Engineer Jim Helb a condition of its approval.
The Board voted unanimously to approve the variances. “What is being proposed is a vast improvement over what is there now,” said Board member Ed Conlan. “The master plan asked us to improve housing in Verona.” Board member Mike Zichelli noted that the proposed new house does look different from other homes now on the block, but added that “the property demands something different.” Campos said after the meeting concluded that he expected work on the property to begin in late spring.
Although the current home is one of the oldest homes in Verona, it had not been landmarked. Verona does not forcibly landmark buildings: In the past five years, the Verona Landmarks Preservation Commission has gotten property owners’ permission to get landmark designation for the Verona United Methodist Church and a former Erie Railroad freight shed on Depot Street. The Commission did not speak at the Board of Adjustment hearing.