Law & Justice

Owners of Westfield’s "Watcher House" Still Hope to Knock it Down to Build 2 More

The owners of Westfield’s now-infamous “Watcher” house are appealing the Westfield Planning Board’s decision not to let them subdivide the lot. Credits: John Mooney

WESTFIELD, NJ — Maria and Derrick Broaddus, owners of Westfield’s now-infamous “Watcher” house at 657 Boulevard, are appealing the Westfield Planning Board’s decision in January not to let them subdivide the lot so that the existing home can be torn down and replaced with two new homes.

According to the complaint, filed recently, the board’s decision was arbitrary and capricious. It also asserts that the board erred in allowing lay person testimony from members of the public regarding the lot’s trees to sway their decision without also hearing expert testimony on the subject.

The Broaddus family’s attorney, James Foerst, who specializes in land-use law and served on the Westfield Town Council for more than a decade, said he thinks the planning board got it wrong, focusing on the house and the trees on the lot, not on the lot itself.

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The variance they asked for is de minimis, he explained, and should have been granted.

“Whether you like what the proposal is or don’t like what the proposal is, the law is the law,” Foerst said.

It’s a salacious case, he noted. As for the rumors surrounding the Broaddus family’s motivations, “Nobody wanted this less than them,” Foerst said. “These people have been put in an unfortunate circumstance. No matter the outcome of this litigation, there’s no winner here.”

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