All concerned West Orange residents should be aware of an unfortunate incident that occurred at the town’s Planning Board meeting on April 5, 2017.

Attending the meeting were a number of residents of the West Essex Highlands amongst other West Orange residents, who were there to let the Planning Board know of their concern regarding the most recent development proposal for Block 179, Lot 32, property adjacent to the WE Highlands, which also borders on Essex Fells and Verona.

This block of land, one of the largest remaining undeveloped properties in Essex County, contains thousands of mature trees, and is home to a number of endangered species and the headwaters of Canoe Brook. Their concern largely relates to traffic and safety issues, which as proposed, would have a decidedly negative impact on the Highlands and neighboring communities.

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There is ONLY one way in and out of the proposed development. The costs of providing basic services (police, fire, school, etc.) for new residents would also have to be borne by all town residents through higher real estate taxes. Although the agenda for the recent Planning Board meeting provided for a period of public comments and questions, none relating to this particular issue were allowed, and the Board Chairman called for adjournment even though objections had been raised. This was a great disservice to the many town residents who had attended the meeting with the expectation of having their voices heard.

We fully expect that many concerned citizens will be attending future Planning Board meetings, and hope that they will be allowed to speak out on the issues that could impact all West Orange residents.


Rita and Alan Yohalem