Strahan Garage Controversy OVER: Montclair Neighbors Victorious

Friday, Mar 19, 2010 10:52am  |  COMMENTS (13)

Strahan garage with Greenbaum.jpg

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.

Friends,

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

13 Comments

  1. POSTED BY walleroo  |  March 19, 2010 @ 11:24 am

    I’m confused. I thought Strahan used to live at 99 Lloyd. Here you say Greenbaum lives there now. Which is it?

  2. POSTED BY Jimmytown  |  March 19, 2010 @ 12:27 pm

    Im sorry, but you do not OWN your view. The Strahan Garage is half underground built to house his car collection when he lived there. The Greenbaums really have no say on what goes on at a neighbor’s private home. Speaking of private, what does this say about the privacy of Jean Strahan, having to worry about David and Carrie staring at the back side of her home every day?
    I understand that you should show the nice side of the fence towards the neighbors, and that a roller coaster may be inappropriate, but this is a garage. If its ugly, a facade of brick should be a remedy… not a complete tear down. And damages???? You know what else blocks the sun? TREES!
    Ive been invited to the Strahans on enough occasions to form an opinion of both Michael and Jean and can say with certainty that they are not in the wrong here

  3. POSTED BY Spicoli  |  March 19, 2010 @ 12:34 pm

    Rich Guy #1: I need a 6,000 sq ft garage to house my collection of ridiculously overpriced vintage cars.
    Rich Guy #2: But your garage will upset the feng shui of our garden.
    Rich Guy #1: Yes, but I have Connections. My attorney has greased the skids with the Board of Adjustments and arranged for an impenetrable wall of variances and legal riders. The garage will be mine!
    Rich Guy #2: I have attorneys, too. And the are In The Know. I will sue you for damages. Look over there, across my compound. A shrub wilts in the shadow of your monstrosity! And the shade extends across my swan pond. The swans are developing Seasonal Affective Disorder from the lack of sunlight!!
    Rich Guy #1: You call those swans? Please, they look like low grade chickens from over here on top of my Magnificent Auto Palace.
    Rich Guy #2: Townspeople, townspeople, rally around me! See the injustice, it must be stopped! Oh the humanity, oh the cygnini-ty!
    (yawn)…

  4. POSTED BY bill tierney  |  March 19, 2010 @ 12:42 pm

    “When the obtaining of permission exceeds the cost of obtaining forgiveness, there is moral hazard,”
    Well said David, I couldn’t agree more.

  5. POSTED BY MellonBrush  |  March 19, 2010 @ 12:45 pm

    I agree with you JT. Some brick work could be applied and possibly painted with some aesthetically pleasing bucolic scenery. The Greenbaums could plant trumpet vine on their side and it will eventually climb all over the fence/garage and obscure the offending structure.
    Thing is, when a person gets a bug up their arse about something, it’s very difficult to dislodge. Better to not let it climb up there in the first place, eh?

  6. POSTED BY Jimmytown  |  March 19, 2010 @ 12:50 pm

    Do you see any sort of shadow coming from the Garage? No… but 90% of the sun is blocked by his OWN TREES! And these trees have no leaves…. I bet in the Summer, the only sun he ever got was at high noon. I think the real issue is that the Strahans house looks nicer than David’s home, and part of his “equity” is based on “look at the view of my neighbors beautiful home.”
    If the garage has to be torn down, I would plant 35ft Hemlocks (East Hampton style) just to keep this peeping tom from looking at my home

  7. POSTED BY monongahela  |  March 19, 2010 @ 1:22 pm

    Bravo Spicoli! Post of the week!

  8. POSTED BY Jimmytown  |  March 19, 2010 @ 1:24 pm

    “is the basis for the rational calculation made by many this past decade, whether named Madoff, Fuld, Skilling, and countless others known and prosecuted and the many more not yet known that contribute to the degeneration of our social and economic foundation. Actions of good faith”
    — We are still talking about a Garage, right? Shine a projector on it, and have “movie night” in your backyard. Problem Solved

  9. POSTED BY TraitorJo  |  March 19, 2010 @ 1:57 pm

    The garage is and always has been an eye sore but Greenbaum is a pain in the a** and he knows Jean Strahan and knows she will not go down easily. If she does anything she should just modify it to meet the details first submitted. Don’t take it down because David Greenbaum doesn’t like looking at it — look the other way Greenbaum!

  10. POSTED BY Rubber Chix  |  March 19, 2010 @ 2:47 pm

    I don’t think anyone would want that huge cement building towering over their yard a few feet from their property line. I don’t know the Greenbaums, but I’m glad to hear they won this.

  11. POSTED BY walleroo  |  March 19, 2010 @ 4:01 pm

    Very funny, Spicoli.
    I agree, the guy is a whiner.

  12. POSTED BY Conan  |  March 19, 2010 @ 4:35 pm

    Great lines, Spicoli…

  13. POSTED BY appletony  |  March 19, 2010 @ 7:14 pm

    If you get an approval and/or variance, you should build within the approved parameters. I am indifferent to the personalities involved (on either side), but happy to see the decision here. Good for the board!

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