I was in attendance at several of the New Providence Zoning Board of Adjustment meetings throughout this year regarding the approval of LNR Properties to secure variances to convert one of its spaces into a brick oven pizza establishment. Growing up in New Providence as well as a contractor being considered for the property renovation for the project, my interest was twofold.
Needless to say I was very disappointed when the approvals were voted down for myself personally and for the town of New Providence as a whole. The improvements LNR Properties proposed would have upgraded the existing buildings and lot visually and with safety in mind as well, increasing property values and generating much needed commerce in these trying times.
My disappointment paled in comparison to the way the meetings were conducted and the lack of control and focus that emanated throughout the proceedings. It was sophomoric at best...erupting into chanting, displaying and involving children in issues most likely outside their comprehension during a combative meeting with an out of control mob mentality. It appeared to me that the professionals that were hired by both parties were not given the appropriate venue to present their findings or respond to questions asked by members and the public as well. Also, it appeared LNR Properties complied with all the requests put forth by the board for all its requirements in order to have this passed. Consisting of over a year and a half of meetings for a 600 square foot renovation and a determination of its use is absurd to the applicant and should be to the public and town officials as well. It was embarrassing to see board members bullied into losing sight of their position and to fairly represent all residents and business owners.
Referring to Mr. Kapner's post of April 3, 2012, you were very clear on your personal interest regarding this project. While you listed all your issues with LNR Properties as a reason to dismiss this project, were your complaints reported and documented to the proper authorities and resolved as to not fester and therefore generate future good neighbors and neighborhoods? It appears that the bullet list posted by Mr. Kapner was addressed by LNR Properties in subsequent meetings...all to no avail.
And...really...to piggyback your ongoing issues with NJ Transit, unresolved town drainage remediation, and the safety of children having access to the NJ Transit Pedestrian Tunnel (which first and foremost is only intended for use by NJ Transit Commuters and not a throughway for children to get to Salt Brook School or Town Deli) onto the approval of this project. It confirms your conflict of interest especially since you are currently a Planning Board Member. You have also been a former and/or current President of the New Providence Business and Professional Association as well as a former and/or current board member of the New Providence Downtown Improvement District.
Are you for the improvement of commerce in New Providence as long as it is your 'beloved downtown' and not in your own backyard and taking into account Town Deli's history of providing over 30 years of service to its residents? Why have these issues not been addressed as of yet?
It again reflects your desire to provoke the public, vilify and discredit LNR Properties. Also, not being educated regarding a process, such as applying for a variance does and should not translate to having a "lack of concern" as expressed by Mr. Kapner. I find it interesting that Mr. Kapner proudly posted his board credentials and contact information on previous posts not involving this dispute...conveniently leaving them off as to remove himself...if only on paper. He should have been asked to step down. His bashing of local businesses as well as misinforming the public via The Alternative Press has been less than professional.
To further comment on Mr. Kapner's post...I don't believe you have conflicted feelings about the denial and are very comfortable with the board's decision. You achieved your mission. It should have been "your hope" that the appropriate actions to improve the overall safety of the area had been addressed years ago.