It was a dramatic end to 2013 for the Howell Zoning Board of Adjustment with the approval of an application to build a hotel on Route 9 and the subsequent resignation of Chairman Steve Meier.
On Monday night longtime member Wendell Nanson was unanimously approved as the new chairman and said he looked forward to the challenges of his new position. “I never wanted to take the chair because we had John Van Noy and then Steve Meier stepped up,” he said as he starts his 13th year. “As long as you have people that are knowledgeable why step up. This time I was the senior person so that’s why I stepped up.
At the time of his resignation Meier cited difficulties with the board and working with the township committee to be successful. Nanson said he does not believe that will be the case with him as chairman. “I in no way am political. I’m going to run the board as open minded, hear the testimony and we’ll make a decision.”
Nanson said he believes the board members can work well together going forward. “We’re volunteers. We’re appointed and we should check the politics at the door. We’re going to make the decision that we were appointed to this board to do.”
The most senior member of the board was named its chairman but in a somewhat surprising move Daniel Cardellichio, one of the least senior members, was named vice chairman. Nanson said the two will work well together as they go through the year. “He’s very professional,” Nanson said. “He spent time on the planning board. He will do his homework.”
The first piece of business for the board on Monday night was an application by a group of local residents looking to see whether an application in front of the Howell Planning Board actually belonged to the zoning board to decide. The application calls for a CVS Pharmacy, a Quick Check gas station and convenience store and an Investors Bank to be built at the intersection of Route 9 and Salem Hill Road.
Nanson said that while questions were raised about whether those uses apply to the zoning in the area he believed the original determination was correct. “It wasn’t up to the board to open the case up and discuss the merits of the case,” he said. “It was up to us to decide if it needed to be in the planning board or the zoning board. On the basis of what our professionals said and what testimony we heard it’s the right board.
The lone vote against keeping the application with the planning board was Michael Sanclimenti who cited concerns about the zoning uses of the three businesses. Nanson said, “Even if it comes to us we have to hear both sides of the argument, but what are we going to be voting on. We’re here to grant relief for variances and I don’t feel that the application needs a variance based on our ordinance.”
The board’s next meeting is set for January 27.