Government

Westfield Homeowner Says Official Warned Her ‘Wall of Love’ Must Go

147088320e464e19455e_DSC_0089.JPG
Westfield resident Valerie Latona said the town's zoning official told her the "wall of love" has to come down. Credits: Jackie Lieberman
4220860ad147b791aad1_DSC_0080.JPG
Westfield resident Valerie Latona said the town's zoning official told her the "wall of love" has to come down. Credits: Jackie Lieberman
de494ec459b065a94164_DSC_0081.JPG
Westfield resident Valerie Latona said the town's zoning official told her the "wall of love" has to come down. Credits: Jackie Lieberman
a5108e17f5d66d08cf5d_DSC_0082.JPG
The fence on Rahway Avenue is covered in Valentine's Day hearts with messages written on them. Credits: Jackie Lieberman
e546666ba30dd9c717cb_DSC_0083.JPG
The fence on Rahway Avenue is covered in Valentine's Day hearts with messages written on them. Credits: Jackie Lieberman
5c7e21a6327d9a99c019_DSC_0084.JPG
The fence on Rahway Avenue is covered in Valentine's Day hearts with messages written on them. Credits: Jackie Lieberman
b43afc112ba0fe494de0_DSC_0085.JPG
The fence on Rahway Avenue is covered in Valentine's Day hearts with messages written on them. Credits: Jackie Lieberman
66050bf1537ecd7927f9_DSC_0086.JPG
The fence on Rahway Avenue is covered in Valentine's Day hearts with messages written on them. Credits: Jackie Lieberman
7944a00e50a5c874f9da_DSC_0087.JPG
The fence on Rahway Avenue is covered in Valentine's Day hearts with messages written on them. Credits: Jackie Lieberman
f94bfedd6a79bb7a89be_DSC_0088.JPG
The fence on Rahway Avenue is covered in Valentine's Day hearts with messages written on them. Credits: Jackie Lieberman
20d903d4feba43abd3c1_DSC_0090.JPG
The fence on Rahway Avenue is covered in Valentine's Day hearts with messages written on them. Credits: Jackie Lieberman
25784c0abddef3c33483_DSC_0091.JPG
The fence on Rahway Avenue is covered in Valentine's Day hearts with messages written on them. Credits: Jackie Lieberman
823bb4c8cafc7bf28419_DSC_0092.JPG
The fence on Rahway Avenue is covered in Valentine's Day hearts with messages written on them. Credits: Jackie Lieberman
cae7a784048e295b819c_DSC_0093.JPG
The fence on Rahway Avenue is covered in Valentine's Day hearts with messages written on them. Credits: Jackie Lieberman
d69e073dad8ed88dffa9_DSC_0094.JPG
The fence on Rahway Avenue is covered in Valentine's Day hearts with messages written on them. Credits: Jackie Lieberman
147088320e464e19455e_DSC_0089.JPG

WESTFIELD, NJ — A sign reading “love trumps hate” posted by homeowners Valerie Latona and David Contract on their fence on Rahway Avenue have been ripped down, spray-painted, slashed and shot with what appears to be an Airsoft gun. Now it's in its third iteration since November after damaged signs were replaced, it's accompanied by a “wall of love” sign and dozens of Valentine’s Day hearts created by others. 

Latona said that Westfield’s zoning official told her last week that it all has to go.

The couple served coffee, hot chocolate and doughnuts on Valentine’s Day to dozens of people, inviting them to add hearts with messages of love to the fence. The next day, Latona said, she got a call from zoning official Kathleen Neville.

Sign Up for E-News

Neville has not responded to requests for comments.

“She said, ‘You need to take down your signage,’” Latona said. “She said she’s sending us a letter that we’re in violation.”

Latona said that Neville cited Westfield's land use ordinance (section 16.04) that dictates that single-family homes may only have one sign, which can only be used to display the home’s street address.  

“Meanwhile, we’ve got merry Christmas signs, Westfield Swimming, Westfield Football signs — I’m not criticizing, but let’s talk about this,” Latona said. “You have new baby signs, graduation signs. It’s discriminatory.”

For help, Latona turned to attorney Mitch Beinhaker, a Westfield resident who specializes in trusts and estates, small businesses representation and real estate. Beinhaker said he hasn’t reviewed the municipal statute yet, but he believes that this enforcement is arbitrary and capricious.

He noted that political signs were posted all around town.

“Are you enforcing the law arbitrarily or are you doing it consistently?” he asked. “It doesn’t sound like there’s anything consistent about it.”

Beinhaker added that Westfield's law prohibiting signs might violate First Amendment rights. He said that he and a few other lawyers in town are looking into the matter.

“It’s sad that they would selectively enforce a law for a wall about love,” said Latona, who has stated in the past that the “love trumps hate” message is about values, not political parties.

Latona said she watched parents putting up hearts with their children.

“It’s amazing how much this wall means to people,” Latona said. “We’re not backing down.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

Mountainside

Upcoming Events

Thu, May 24, 9:30 AM

Junior League of Summit Thrift Shop, Summit

Here Comes Summer! Junior League of Summit Thrift ...

Giving Back Green

Fri, May 25, 9:30 AM

Junior League of Summit Thrift Shop, Summit

Here Comes Summer! Junior League of Summit Thrift ...

Giving Back Green

Thu, May 31, 1:30 PM

Coppola Ristorante, New Providence

Lunch and Learn: Dental Implants and the ...

Health & Wellness

Sun, June 3, 3:00 PM

New Providence Memorial Library, New Providence

Springsteen and His Layered Lyrics

Arts & Entertainment

Video Shows School Board Member In Altercation With Police at Traffic Stop in South Orange

May 16, 2018

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - South Orange Maplewood School Board Member Stephanie Lawson-Muhammad got into an altercation with a South Orange police officer who stopped her for speeding last month, in which she used profanity, complained when she was issued a ticket and called South Orange Police Chief Kyle Kroll “a skinhead cop.”

Lawson-Muhammad also appeared to suggest that she would ...

Host an International Exchange Student

May 21, 2018

EF High School Exchange Year announces annual search for student exchange host families in communities across the New Jersey

EF High School Exchange Year—a division of EF Education First, the World Leader in International Education—has kicked off its annual nationwide search for caring host families to welcome exchange students into their homes. Last year EF connected over 3,000 ...

How the Holi Color Festival Came to Summit; Event Planner Shares Her Story

May 21, 2018

Back in India, Holi was a holiday observed by almost all states. The holiday would be declared at all educational institutes and offices. It's a two day spring festival also known as the festival of colors. The festival signifies the victory of good over bad, the arrival of spring with the fragrance of flowers in the air and aura of warmth and happiness.

Holi festival is the time ...