Westfield Town Council Argues About Campaign, Approves Demolition of House in Historic Neighborhood

Sherry Hines asks about the demolition of a home on Stoneleigh Park. Credits: Jackie Lieberman

WESTFIELD, NJ — A day after the election, the Westfield Town Council meeting ended in an argument over campaign tactics when Councilman James Foerst took a moment away from business to chide Councilman Dave Haas and his supporters for "negativity" during his campaign against Mayor Andy Skibitsky, saying he was "very dissapointed" with Haas.

Watch Haas’s response in this video:

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Earlier in the meeting, resident Sherry Hines, who lives on Stoneleigh Park, asked about an agenda item to approve the demolition of a single-family dwelling located at 10 Stoneleigh Park. The development—which was the first planned unit development in the United States, Foerst had told the council earlier in the evening—is not on the local historic preservation list, but is on the national register.

During a meeting earlier in the evening, Foerst said that the applicant who, for now, is only receiving a demolition permit for the current home, had agreed to some changes to the planned home’s appearance as recommended by the Historic Preservation Commission, including switching from a stone facade to brick.

“The house should look really nice,” Foerst had told the council.

But when she stood at the microphone, Hines said her opinion was that commission didn’t go far enough.

“This house has yet to define itself in some sort of architectural period,” said Hines, who also said she wants the new home to be compatible with the neighborhood.

Town Attorney Russell Finestein explained some of the suggestions given by the commission and the concessions the property owner agreed to make and added, “The current home on the site is not in great condition—this should be a big improvement.”

Foerst recommended Hines speak to him later about getting Stoneleigh Park onto the list of local historic sites.

The council approved the demolition, along with two others.

Acting Mayor Jo Ann Neylan presented a Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month proclamation. To read that story and watch the video, click here.

The council passed a resolution to accept a grant for the “Cops in Shops” project to enforce underage drinking laws. And the council passed a resolution authorizing the award of contract for 25 new pay stations that will allow users to park by app.

“I think they are going to be a great improvement,” said Neylan.

A budget transfer was also approved.

Skibitsky was absent, representing the town of Westfield at a New Jersey Small Business Development Center event, Neylan said. Councilwoman Vicki Kimmins also was absent.

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