Thomas Casmento will have access to Cozy Lake for the first time since he bought his Birch Road property in 2006.

At its Monday, February 24 meeting, the Jefferson Township Land Use Board granted Casmento a lot line adjustment that will provide him with a way of getting down to the lake around the steep drop-off on his current lot.

Township Planner Jill Hartmann confirmed a rock outcropping extends to the original property line.

After renovating the house he lives in, Casmento purchased the lot next door, which had been vacant for at least 10 years.

Although substandard for the zone, the new lot is wider than Casmento’s. By adding some of that property to his home lot, Casmento will be able to access the lake and even drive a car down to the lake if necessary.

He will then sell the reduced lot to a neighbor.

Casmento’s lot is about 4,000 square feet. The lot next door is 7,386 square feet before the subdivision and 5,458 square feet after. The lot size in the zone is 33,000 square feet, but none of the lots on Birch Road are that big, Casmento said.

The lot he is selling has a run-down house on it and the buyer intends to build a new house. Casmento said the new house will be compatible with the neighborhood.

The board also approved the second application on the agenda.

Walter Mucha bought a house on New Jersey Avenue in Prospect Point several years ago and renovated it. Like many houses in Prospect Point, this one had a small detached garage not suitable for most of today’s vehicles. It was also run down, Mucha said.

His engineer, Louis Scheidt, described it as only big enough for an MG midget but not safe for one.

Mucha, through his company, Keystone Management, applied for a bulk area variance to enlarge the garage which, like many in the neighborhood, is in the front yard.

He explained when he bought the house out of foreclosure his only option was to buy it through his business.

The new garage will have three bays, two for Mucha’s cars and one for his boat and jet ski. Once the garage has been expanded, he will no longer need to store them outside.

Scheidt said it is common in waterfront areas for a garage to be detached and within the front yard. He said he reviewed the plans with Township Engineer John Ruschke, who had a few questions.

Mucha will upgrade the drywell on the property, Scheidt said.

Samantha Anello, filling in for Ruschke at the meeting, said the setback between the drywell and the seepage pits for the septic needs to be slightly larger. Scheidt said that would be done.

Colleen Lyons of the Lake Hopatcong Commission reviewed the plans and had a few suggestions for Mucha, all of which he agreed to. The Commission wanted to see a silt fence during construction of the new garage and asked Mucha to agree to some new planting around the house to enhance water quality. Lyons also asked that Mucha use no fertilizer and he readily agreed.

Lyons explained to the Land Use Board, which was having its first formal meeting as a combined planning and zoning board, that the Commission advises each of the four Lake Hopatcong municipalities on applications for property in the lake’s watershed.

After the regular business, Board Attorney Glenn Kienz told the board his firm represents many McDonald’s franchises, so he will recuse himself from considering the McDonald’s application scheduled for a later meeting.

McDonald’s on Route 15 South plans to install a side-by-side drive through system to improve site circulation. Allegedly it will reduce drive-through wait times and queue length. It will require partial demo of the existing building. It was deemed incomplete because of four missing items

  • Inclusion of all existing structures within 200′ of the property
  • A soil remediation and fill plan
  • A landscaping plan
  • A lighting plan

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Jane is a veteran journalist with years of experience in municipal, police and court reporting as well as feature writing. She is a native of the Lake Hopatcong section of Jefferson Township. A true Jersey Girl, she loves the beach as well as the lake, horses and classic cars. She lives in Warren County and has three grown children. She can be reached at