Candidate Statements

Addressing Development and Municipal Land Use Issues in Westfield


In my prior letters to the editor, I let you know that over the coming weeks, I would remind residents of all the components of my platform. (You can also read the entire platform, which was first published online in mid-April, at www.andy2017.com). This week, let’s talk about land use. I think this is a particularly important topic to address. Candidates without experience or knowledge of New Jersey land use laws make promises they simply cannot keep. They have neither the authority nor power to do what they promise to do. Candidates will lament, “the town should/or should not have ...” It is important that Westfield residents know the facts, and I am confident that when residents know the facts, they will recognize the importance of experience in public office.

To be sure, land use is a very complex matter, residents are sometimes surprised to learn that local land use is not exclusively governed by local ordinance. To the contrary, the laws of the State of New Jersey guide many aspects of local land use as do numerous court rulings, the “equal protection” clause of the 14th Amendment (which guarantee the same rights, privileges, and protections to all citizens), and the “due process” clause of the 14th Amendment (which acts as a safeguard from arbitrary denial of life, liberty, or property by the government outside the sanction of law). Further, private property owners are guaranteed certain inalienable rights over their own property, including, but not limited to, the right to sell their property to whoever they wish, to seek historic designation if the property qualifies for such designation, or to remove the existing structure and rebuild. Such guaranteed private property rights apply to all private property owners regardless if the owner is a resident who occupies a house on the property or if the owner is a developer. The legal framework that protects private property owners from government intrusion simultaneously affords private property owners control of their property’s destiny.

The state’s Municipal Land Use Law does provide the town the authority to regulate zoning and certain building design and placement standards, such as setbacks, building envelope, impervious surface coverage and the like. When we refer to a construction or development project, land use decisions are made only after following a mandated process that oftentimes include public hearings. Depending on the particulars of a proposed project, the approval or disapproval of a development application is decided by a quasi-judicial board – Planning Board if “conforming” and Board of Adjustment if “non-conforming” – and those decisions must be based on the testimony presented, the merits of the application, the applicable sections of the land use ordinance, and other factors. All applicants, whether they are individuals or developers, are entitled to due process and any decisions rendered regarding an application must not be arbitrary or capricious. I have advocated, and will continue to do so, for carefully managing development while, at the same time, making sure that the town is meeting its statutory and court ordered obligations.

Sign Up for E-News

When I became mayor, the country was at the height of the “McMansion” movement so one of my first acts was to form the Land Use Task Force, a panel of experts in planning, design, and land use law. The Task Force conducted outreach, performed a comprehensive analysis of re-development issues, and presented recommendations to the town council for changes to the land use ordinance that would balance the public demand for larger houses and more amenities, private property rights, and the community’s interests. The Town then enacted legislation based on the Task Force’s recommendations. In addition, at my urging, the town subsequently updated the Historic Preservation Ordinance and the Tree Preservation Ordinance. These legislative actions were successfully executed on behalf of the community’s best interests without violating private property rights.

From my experience, I know I have to work within New Jersey land use laws and court rulings. To do so, I will continue to appoint responsible, competent, and caring volunteers on our boards to ensure that Westfielders retain their property rights and that Westfield remains one of the top communities in the United States.

Thank you,

Mayor Andy Skibitsky

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Driver Escapes Icy River After Car Goes Off GSP Near Clark/Cranford Border

March 21, 2018

CLARK, NJ — A car went off the road and into the river on the northbound Garden State Parkway between the Clark and Cranford exits during Wednesday night’s snow storm.

According to Clark’s chief of police, Pedro Matos, the car’s driver managed to escape the water — divers went into the river and determined the car to be empty. The sole occupant was ...

Mayor Brindle’s Update, Feb. 13

March 14, 2018

The following are highlights from the update that Mayor Shelley Brindle gave at Tuesday night’s town council meeting.

Last week’s back to back nor’easters left a wave of destruction that Westfield hasn’t experienced since Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Three thousand homes lost power. Over 40 roads were closed due to downed wires and/or trees. Our police responded to ...

Upcoming Events


Fri, March 23, 12:00 PM

Resolve, Scotch Plains

Free Teen Anxiety Group (Ages 14-17) at Resolve


Sat, March 24, 10:00 AM


March for Our Lives - Westfield

Government Law & Justice

Sat, March 24, 10:00 AM

Burent Middle School , Union

Union County Wide - March for Our Lives

Government Law & Justice

Westfield Police Blotter: More Than $2K Worth of Items Reported Stolen from Business, & More

March 21, 2018

March 11, 2018 6:42 p.m.

Marion Bethea, age 56, of Roselle, was arrested on the strength of an outstanding warrant for her arrest from Columbia Municipal Court in the amount of $500 pursuant to a motor vehicle stop. Subject was processed and released on recognizance.


March 16, 2018 11:16 a.m.

Blas Barquin, age 34, of Cranford, NJ, was arrested on the strength of an outstanding ...

All Are Invited to Learn More about Youth & Family Counseling Service

March 21, 2018

Youth & Family Counseling Service (YFCS) has been helping area residents coping with mental illness, substance abuse and behavioral health issues since 1918. As a celebration of 100 years of service, all are invited to a gathering on Sunday, April 8, from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Community Room of The Pointe at Garwood.

Started 100 years ago as the Mission of Help by St. Paul’s ...

'Trying' explores age, youth and points of history in poignant production

‘Trying’ explores youth, age and points of history in poignant production

By Liz Keill

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – The George Street Playhouse presents an engrossing, two-character play based on the real life of Francis Biddle, former Attorney General.

Biddle, a Harvard educated lawyer, served under Franklin Roosevelt and later Harry Truman during the Nuremberg Tribunal. His ...

Can I Change My Partner?

March 21, 2018

Couples oftentimes look to change the “other.” “If only” the other would make these changes, or do as I say, our relationship would be great. We tend to focus on the other. We tend to focus on changing the other. We tend to focus on the other’s negative behavior. Couples like to report what their spouse/partner is doing and how they are ...

16 Homes Sold Last Week in Westfield, Scotch Plains, Fanwood, Mountainside & Cranford

Sixteen homes sold last week, March 11 to March 18, 2018, in Westfield, Scotch Plains, Fanwood, Mountainside and Cranford:*


TOWN        ADDRESS                  STYLE           RMS    ...

Charitable Spirit Alive and Well in Westfield Public Schools

Students, staff and parents in Westfield Public Schools continue the district’s long tradition of helping others both in and outside of the community, with a number of students recently recognized for their efforts.

Fifteen Westfield High School juniors and sophomores were honored by the Community Food Bank of New Jersey for collecting more than 5,000 pounds of food items for families in ...


AtlantiCast: Episode 13

On this episode of AtlantiCast, new clinical studies in the fields of cardiology and immunotherapy, national and statewide recognitions for Atlantic Health System medical centers and the inaugural AtlantiCast Collab Challenge!


The Day After

Some years ago, the United Nations held the International Summit on Sustainable Development, here in Johannesburg. The Summit was a great success. One wonders, though, whether all the wonderful decisions and resolutions that were adopted were ever implemented. In other words, were they themselves sustainable?

Good ideas and worthwhile projects are suggested regularly. The question is, do they ...

Financially Savvy Charitable Giving: Donor-Advised Funds

Americans are known to be philanthropic, with an estimated 83% donating to charitable causes. Making the donation convenient and tax-effective is a win-win for both charities and those with a generous heart. Donor-advised funds (DAFs) are a simplistic funding structure available to those with both small and large charitable giving pots.  

Mechanics of Donor Funds

DAFs can be set up ...


Kathleen Marie Christian (nee Helmstetter), age 73 of Surf City, NJ, passed away peacefully at home ...
Read more

Suspended Hillsborough HS Athletic Director Charged with Theft

March 19, 2018

HILLSBOROUGH, NJ — Suspended Hillsborough High School Athletic Director Michael Fanizzi has been arrested and charged with the theft of $10,704 in athletic event receipts over a four-year period from 2013-2017, according to Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson.

Fanizzi, 53, a resident of Conover Way in Hillsborough who had been athletics director for 14 years, had been ...