After an eight-year struggle with neighbors Michael and Jean Strahan and Montclair township over construction of a huge garage by the Strahans, the Montclair Board of Adjustment ruled Wednesday night in favor of David & Carrie Greenbaum, of 91 Lloyd Road.
The Greenbaums argued that the town of Montclair was wrong in issuing building permits for a Strahan garage much taller, and with less architectural detail, than the one the board of adjustment originally approved.
David Greenbaum, describes the garage, which required a variance from Montclair’s board of adjustment back in 2002, as a “hulking colossus,” which blocks the sun, keeps shrubs from growing and makes him feel like he’s living next door to a Costco.
The Greenbaums sent a heartfelt letter of thanks to the neighbors who rallied in their support:
At approximately 1AM after 6 hours of testimony and cross examination, we are pleased and grateful to report you our appeal was granted. We were victorious in the Board of Adjustment revoking building permits that were issued, in our view, erroneously by the township. The Board of Adjustment after some incredibly profound and impassioned deliberations validated our view, thus vindicating our long held contention the Strahan’s had disingenuously and surreptitiously built a structure that deviated materially and substantially from that which was approved in 2002.
However, their are still battles, or at least some serious work ahead for the Greenbaums who will seek to remedy the situation and damages.
Full text of the Greenbaum’s letter, after the jump.
It has been a long hard slog. We have been dealing with the callous actions of the Strahans for almost 8 years. Early Thursday morning we reached a milestone.
Just after midnight, after 4 hours of testimony and cross examination, we are pleased and grateful to report you our appeal was granted. We were victorious in the Board of Adjustment revoking building permits that were issued, in our view, erroneously by the township. The Board of Adjustment after some incredibly profound and impassioned deliberations validated our view, thus vindicating our long held contention the Strahan’s had disingenuously and surreptitiously built a structure that deviated materially and substantially from that which was approved in 2002.
The ultimate outcome, only clear in the last moments of the hearing, provides our family great relief and satisfaction that our cause was right, justified and worthwhile. We are very fortunate to have had the means to and tenacity to prosecute this case, as you can be assured this has been a formidable undertaking.
We are even more fortunate and blessed to have come to know and enjoy the friendship of many wonderful people in Montclair, including you, who have empathized with our situation and have expressed and provided support.
For those of you who arrived last evening at 205 Claremont Avenue and stayed for an hour, or for the full marathon duration, we cannot begin to thank you enough for your steadfast moral support. For those of you who provided wisdom though sharing your experiences, insights and your support whether in person or in your your thoughts, we thank you. You can be assured that this is a victory for all of us.
Our hearing and its outcome was for us a big step forward. There is much I personally have learned about how our town operates and much of it is very disturbing. I will be meeting with Mayor Fried this Saturday to discuss some of my observations of the structural and cultural problems that exist at 205 Claremont Avenue. These problems adversely effect all of us.
We now have a recently renewed Town Council and a new Township Manager that have the unique opportunity (if they choose to take it) to effect positive and lasting change. Perhaps our town’s budget situation may necessitate the need to accelerate these changes. This may be a silver lining in the present storm cloud.
With regards to the Strahan matter and the issue of the decaying Collossus next door, we are unfortunately not done. We will pursue further actions as necessary, legal and otherwise, to achieve a satisfactory resolution. Our hearing last night, to use a football analogy, is a turnover on the play. We believe that if rational and reasonable minds prevail, the Garage structure should be demolished and our damages restituted. We have learned, regrettably we cannot always count on reasonable and rational thinking, however this decision by the Board of Adjustment at least might encourage the other parties involved to now recognize their own best interests are more closely aligned with what’s right for all parties. We hope this will be the case.
We have all come through a period of recent history where, in our judgement, many of society’s admirations and ambitions may have been a bit misplaced. Our society’s culture, our systems and incentives, quite evidently have become perverted. Today we are all experiencing the consequences of this. Please consider:
“When the obtaining of permission exceeds the cost of obtaining forgiveness, there is moral hazard.”
Extra gratitude and admiration goes to Board members Paul Burr, Betty Holloway, John Whipple and Joseph Fleischer, all of whom had the heart, the legal fluency and the conviction to vote in our favor and recognize how the law should be applied.
Again, please accept our sincere appreciation and gratitude to those who stood with us and by us.
David & Carrie Greenbaum