The Howell Township Zoning Board of Appeals made three interpretations against a requestor who was newly appointed to the board.

At Tuesday night’s meeting of the ZBA, Carrie Newstead was appointed as Chairwoman, A.J. Sloan was re-appointed as Vice-Chair, and their newest member, Tim Boal, was formally welcomed onto the team. As quickly as he took his seat with his peers, however, Boal had to recuse himself as the requestor of a public hearing to obtain clarification on 3 sections of the township’s zoning ordinance. Sloan said he overcame a concerned about their being a conflict of interest. He said he believes they have the ability to look at each situation on its own merits, and every resident in Howell Township has the right to apply or appeal at the ZBA. Just because he is a newly appointed member, Sloan says, that does not disqualify him from submitting an application.

Boal lives off a private road and onjects to a construction trailer sitting on the private road and in the right of way. He requested clarifications on the outdoor parking and storage of such a vehicle, visibility at intersections, and off-street parking requirements. Boal believed his neighbor was in violation of all, including others that he didn’t bring to the discussion. Following a closed session to review legal opinion without Boal present, the remaining ZBA members returned to ask follow-up questions and make a judgement.

While sympathetic to Boal’s issues, they first ruled that their ordinance had nothing to do with parking a trailer on a private road. They then offered clarification that the trailer being parked on a private road made it not subject to the impacts of visibility. Finally, they interpreted the trailer as being parked on-street, and thus not subject to off-street requirements. Boal disagreed with the interpretations, believing the ordinance was written clearly and in his favor. Howell Township Trustee and ZBA liaison Evan Rudnicki said that interpretations can get fuzzy, in that, if someone is passionate about something, you run the danger of potentially interpreting things in a way that is beneficial to one’s argument.

Sloan empathized, and suggested that to ZBA, perhaps they needed to be written more clearly to be seen Boal’s way. Newstead said she felt his frustrations, having lived on private roads herself. ZBA members mused that perhaps they need to look into reworking some ordinances to be more specific with private roads.(MK)