Moorestown’s Zoning Board of Adjustment held a meeting of continuation on Aug. 31 that was at a point of Board deliberation on Aug. 16. The case had previously seen a deadlock vote of 3-3 with six members present on Aug. 16 before Tuesday evening’s meeting.
On the agenda and according to Moorestown Zoning Board Solicitor Melanie M. Levan was an application from HEF Ventures LLC to the Zoning Board for an interpretation of the Moorestown Zoning Code that the operation of a cooperative sober living residence, as known as a CSLR, is a permitted use in the R-1 and R-1A Zones.
“The Township of Moorestown permits single-family detached dwellings in residential districts, including the R-1 and R-1A Zones,” Melanie said. “Section 180-2 of our Zoning Code defines a single-family detached dwelling as, “a holy detached building constructed or adapted for use exclusively as a place of residence for one family only.”
As defined in the ordinance, a family is defined as “related persons living together as one housekeeping unit provided that domestic employees residing with the family shall be deemed to be members of the family for the purposes of this chapter.”
According to Levan, New Jersey’s Supreme Court has rejected the concept that a family must be made up of people who are related by blood, marriage, or adoption, and the use of the criteria to define a family is unenforceable. “In light of this precedent, the Board cannot require that a persons must be related in order to constitute a family,” Levan said.
According to Levan, there is no definition in the Moorestown Zoning Code of a single housekeeping unit and there are no published court opinions that interpret Moorestown’s Zoning Code with regard to a single housekeeping unit.
“I fully understand that the Zoning Board is tasked with determining what constitutes a single housekeeping unit,” said Board member Walter Fazler. “However, this determination will dictate the use of CSLRs and we must consider the Zone planning laws when making this determination.”
Later in the meeting, Levan explained Board Member Fazler made a motion that the CSLR use is not consistent with a single housekeeping unit and is not therefore permitted in the R-1 and R-1A Zone.
“Part of the reason why we are going through this is to see if we are protecting the interest of our town with some order,” Board Member Chetan Vajapey said. “Does it fit the assemblance of a stable housekeeping unit? Yes, if you redefine a stable housekeeping unit beyond the current legal cases which the minimum is four months.”
“If you vote “yes” you are voting that this is not permitted in the Zone,” Levan said. “If you vote “no” you are voting that it is permitted.”
After deliberations, the final vote stood at 4-3, with four votes “yes” and three votes “no” to pass the application ordinance.
CORRECTION: Halfway through a Moorestown Zoning Board of Adjustment meeting on Aug. 31, board member Walter Fazler made a motion that the CSLR use is not consistent with a single housekeeping unit and is therefore not permitted in the R-1 and R1A zones. The meeting concluded with council not denying the application, but voting 4-3 on Fazler’s motion.
The original article, published on Sept. 2, was incorrect. This is the corrected version.