WEST ORANGE, NJ - Despite the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer and the brouhaha over the proposed Quick Chek on Northfield Avenue, West Orange will be seeing several new businesses opening over the next several months. Here are a few of our soon-to-be neighbors.

Jersey Mike's Subs  - Begun in 1975 in Manasquan, NJ by 14 year old Peter Cancro, Jersey Mikes has 750 open and in development franchises. Sub sandwiches are made to order. The franchise will open behind Chipotle at the corner of Prospect and Eagle Rock Avenues.

Tutor Time - Touted as a child care and learning center for children six weeks and older, Tutor Time will be opening at the site of the old Ekko Restaurant on Northfield Avenue.

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Valley Cleaners, 156 South Valley Road - A new drop-off cleaners will open at the location.

Dunkin Donuts, Northfield Avenue and South Valley Road - Owner of the Dunkin Donuts on Northfield Avenue, Adam Goldman, has received approval to turn the old Julios Restaurant on Northfield Avenue into a Dunkin Donuts Drive-thru. In addition, Goldman has plans to open a Dunkin Donuts in the South Valley Plaza.

Auto Zone Northeast - the Auto Parts and Accessory stores is set to open at 7 Main Street in the near future.

CVS Drive Thru - The CVS Pharmacy 24 Hour Drive Thru on the former site of Pal's Cabin is well underway, though no opening date has been set. 

Total Wine and More - Total Wine and More, located in the Shoprite Essex Green Shopping Plaza, has taken over the former party store and expanded their facility to include lots of surprises.

The Amanuel Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church has a new home at 15 Dean Street.

Valley Road Residential (Old Harvard Press site) - Construction for residential housing will soon begin.

In addition, tower expansion projects for Sirius Radio and World Class Wireless, as well as Cingular wireless, have been approved.

All information was collected from the Planning and Zoning Board's websites.

It has come to the attention of TAPInto West Orange that residents may not be aware that approval for various business can come from the Planning Board, Zoning Board, or both, depending on the requirements.

Planning Board

(From www.westorange.org) The Planning Board is an entity established under the Municipal Land Use Law.  When making decisions, the Board must take into consideration the Township Master Plan, as well as the New Jersey Municipal Land Use Law and case law.  The Planning Board has many important functions, such as adopting and updating the Master Plan, the Council On Affordable Housing plan, reviewing site plans, controlling subdivisions and conditional use applications.  In addition, the Planning Board may grant a “C” variance (deviation from a bulk standard) when it is part of an application, while a “D” (use or density) variance may only be granted by the Zoning Board.

The Planning Board is authorized to exercise power with regard to:

  • Drafting and adopting the Master Plan for the Township;
  • Reviewing subdivision and site plan applications for permitted uses;
  • Reviewing conditional use applications;                                                                            
  • Drafting recommendations as to the zoning ordinance or amendments;
  • Redevelopment Plan;
  • “C” Variances under certain circumstances in connection with site plans and subdivisions;
  • Housing Plan (Council on Affordable Housing).

The Zoning Board

(From www.westorange.org) The primary responsibility of the Zoning Board of Adjustment, sometimes called the Zoning Board, is to hear and vote on requests for variances or exceptions to our zoning ordinance. 

In addition, for some applications, the Zoning Board reviews and approves or denies site plans. Other powers of the Board are to hear and decide appeals of decisions made by an administrative officer, such as the Zoning Officer or Planner, and to interpret the zoning map or zoning ordinance. 

The Zoning Board is called a quasi-judicial body. It functions like a court of law and makes binding legal decisions. The Municipal Land Use Law ("MLUL"), 40:55D; sets forth the statutory law guiding the Zoning Board.

Depending on the type of application, a project may need to be approved by the Planning Board, Zoning Board, both, or neither. 

The Planning Board will review applications for subdivisions, site plans, conditional use, and “c” variances (which are deviation from a bulk standard), in PERMITTED USE ZONES. The Zoning Board will review applications for that may include a CHANGE in the PERMITTED USE ZONE, and “d” variances (change in use or density). 

Sometimes, an application will begin the process with one Board but then be referred to the other. A recent example: satellite antenna applications. Cell towers historically went before the ZBA for ancillary use--but based on new federal law the ZBA determined them to be conditional use--thus triggering them to go before the Planning Board. (State and Federal Law supersedes local zoning ordinances.)

Another example In the case of difference between the Boards would be a new home subdivision project like Bel-Aire. The developer was granted approval by the Planning Board to subdivide the property and build homes in an area that has already been zoned residential--the approved plan may have had conditions, but in general the plan met all the requirements of Chapter XXV. OK--the  homes have been built--but now (hypothetically) the developer decides it would be great to have a mini-mart in the middle of the subdivision--NOW the developer must go before the ZBA because a mini-mart is not allowed in the this residential zone. 

(Editor's Note: Tapinto West Orange would like to thank Planning Board Secretary Robin Miller for her assistance with this article.)