WESTFIELD, NJ — A legal battle fought for years over the expansion of the Stop & Shop supermarket in Westfield may have finally come to a close now that a judge has dismissed the case of James Hughes v. the town of Westfield and the Stop & Shop Supermarket Company, LLC. The plaintiff has 45 days to file an appeal.
Hughes, Stop & Shop has claimed, was merely a “straw man” that a competitor was able to use because he lives in Westfield.
On June 9, Judge Karen Cassidy of the Superior Court of New Jersey affirmed the planning board’s decision to allow Stop & Shop to expand.
The judge’s statement of reasons, which was obtained by TAP into Westfield, explains that Stop & Shop filed an application with the planning board in August of 2012 proposing the demolition of existing office space, expansion of its parking lot from 102 to 147 spaces and construction of an 18,129-foot addition — 16,156 square feet on the main floor and 1,973 square feet in the basement. It also asked for multiple variances.
The board approved the application in December of 2013.
But in March of 2014, Hughes filed a complaint alleging that the application’s approval permits overutilization of the property. He argued that Stop & Shop improperly or erroneously calculated its parking space deficiency and that the board erred by accepting and approving the project with the misrepresented parking deficiency.
He also argued that the board erred because it did not require the project to comply with the state of New Jersey’s noise code and the noise regulations of the town of Westfield.
Finally, he argued that the board’s decision on Stop & Shop’s variances and preliminary and final site plan approval was arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable because it approved, in the plaintiff’s view, substantial variances for parking deficiencies, a sound wall without set backs and unsafe truck and/or pedestrian access.
Stop & Shop argued that the application improves the current lot because it increased pedestrian visibility, reduced the number of curb cuts from five to two and reorganized the parking spaces for better circulation. It noted that even the plaintiff’s engineer agreed that the proposed layout was an improvement over the existing one.
The court also found that Stop & Shop’s sound expert was more credible than the plaintiffs’.
Stop & Shop is located at 219 Elm St. in Downtown Westfield.