Letters to the Editor

Neighbor Objects to Townhouse Project


On Wednesday Jan. 25, 2017, at 7:30 in the Council Chambers of the Municipal building, the Board of Adjustment is hearing a controversial appeal which involves tearing down a two and a half century old single family home at 1481 East Broad Street, and building two town houses with three units each.  Many of my neighbors as well as myself object to the proposed usage, and we are asking you to consider our position, as well as the fact that the precedent this could set, and how that could affect you neighborhood.  We are requesting that you attend the meeting and hear the case for yourself.  We believe most of you will support our position.

This is not a minor matter, one that seemingly fits a board named the Board of “Adjustment.”  It is, essentially, a zoning question. The land, approximately .98 acres, is classified as Zone RS-12, which is a single family home zone allowing no more than 3.07 building units per acre.  The land is perfectly suited for this purpose, and it is relatively easy to envision three single family homes being built on the land.  The builder is proposing to construct 6.09 units per acre.  This is contra to the Master Plan of Westfield, which was last redone in 2009 and amended in 2013.

If you are not familiar with the concept of the Master Plan, it is a legally mandated process for the Town Government to undertake.  It involves many expensive hours of professional work, the input from town officials, Public Hearings and Council votes.  It is an imperfect process, but it reflects the best attempt of the town to control its destiny.  You can learn more about the Master Plan process at: http://www.trenton250.org/learn/planning-101/what-is-a-master-plan/

Sign Up for E-News

The party requesting these variances, “Country Classics at Montgomery” of Hillsborough, NJ, is proposing to build six multifamily homes on a property zoned for single family homes.  With the exception of a church on one side of the property, there is no multifamily housing on that side of East Broad Street until you get to the downtown area.

To build contra to the master plan would now set two markers on that side of East Broad Street, this property and the multifamily apartment’s downtown. It would support future arguments about precedent, and what the town actually allows. All the large properties on East Broad Street would become vulnerable to possible multifamily discussions.  In fact, this could open any large property in town, or the combination of two adjacent properties, to a similar discussion. The risk is a loss of control set by at the Master Plan.

To understand the impact of this, consider the economics of this to the town. A higher population density increases costs to the town, most notably the cost of education. This units are being proposed for 3.5 stories each, these are not “downsizing” homes for empty nesters, who generally don’t want to have to climb stairs. Instead, these are opportunities to buy a new home in the Westfield School district for less than it would normally cost. 

I welcome all who want to buy in Westfield and put their kids in the school system. But increasing density with a lower tax per unit only increases the financial burden on the rest of us.

The “purpose” is not the only variance requested; there are significant size requests that again belittle the phrase Board of “Adjustment.” Again, the builder is proposing to build 3.5 stories, while the current zoning permits 2.5 stories.  Since the property sits at an angle across the street from my home, and is elevated to my property, the height effect will be exaggerated. Further, the current height limit is 32.75 feet, they are requesting 35.75 feet.

It’s not just a height issue. Current zoning permits coverage of 10 percent of the property.  At 19.6 percent, it nearly doubles the norm.

It doesn’t stop there. The effect of building more home and building higher results in more square footage to sell on the property. The Maximum Floor Area Ratio, also called “Total Habitable Floor Space” request is for 36.1 percent of the property size, while the current regulation is 20 percent.  It’s a request of 180 percent of what is allowed. Let’s be clear here; this is a much more profitable way to build.

Again, it doesn’t stop there. Because the number of people living on the property can be twice what would be in three single family homes, the builder needs to build a parking area on the property. If you are familiar with East Broad Street (think three lanes of traffic there, backed up a quarter mile at rush hour) you understand that you can’t park on street.  So this results in a request for a “Maximum All Improvement Coverage Ratio” of 45 percent.1, versus the permitted 20 percent. This is especially important on a property that sits higher than many in the area.  It reduces the amount of water that property can absorb, and increases the amount of water than runs off into the waste water drainage system. 

While the engineering will be presented to show that no adjacent properties are flooded, and no basements are flooded, there are no guarantees that works out that way. Minimizing the Coverage Ratio to what is allowed is an important feature to the neighbors. This can be achieved by developing the property to the RS-12 standards of three single family homes, which would not require additional parking to be built on the property.

In summary, I believe what is being requested so far exceeds what is allowed that I have asked myself if it is really a negotiation tactic, hoping that the Board of Variance will grant the D-1 permitted usage with a smaller building and parking lot profile. I can’t answer that, but let me be clear:  I object to the request for the permitted usage and I object to the oversized building conditions that are being requested.  Since it is my problem today and could be your problem tomorrow, I request that you give serious consideration to attending the meeting and voicing you opinion. Thank you for your time and attention.

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. Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Video: Union County Celebrates Pride Month with CommUNITY PRIDE Day Picnic

June 18, 2018

RAHWAY, NJ — Parents, children, friends and all family members came out on Saturday afternoon to Rahway River Park for the Union County CommUNITY PRIDE Day Picnic.

The family-friendly celebration hosted by the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders was a day of arts and crafts, family lawn games, inflatable bounce houses, playground fun and more, along with music by the rock ...

Mayor Brindle’s Update, June 19

June 20, 2018

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

Good evening everyone! It’s been another busy two weeks with lots of great stuff happening. These past two weeks were particularly fun because I spent lots of time with lots of kids:

-I met with Franklin third graders in Mindowaskin Park as part of their day-long ...

Upcoming Events


Thu, June 21, 7:30 PM

Mindowaskin Park, Westfield

Westfield Summer Concert Series

Arts & Entertainment


Fri, June 22, 7:00 PM

TD Bank Ballpark, Bridgewater

Somerset Patriots vs. Southern Maryland Blue ...


Fri, June 22, 7:30 PM

Crossroads, Garwood

Benefit Concert

Arts & Entertainment Giving Back

Westfield Police Blotter: Tires Slashed on Scotch Plains Ave & More

June 13, 2018

June 6, 2018 3:05 p.m.

A resident of the 200 block of sunset avenue reports being the victim of a fraud. Unknown actor(s) utilized victims credit card to purchase an appliance valued at $1,000.00. Victim did not sustain any monetary loss during this incident. 

June 6, 2018 6:50 a.m.

A resident of the 100 block of Scotch Plains Avenue reports being the victim of a criminal mischief.

State Farm Lowers Auto Rates in New Jersey

June 20, 2018

State Farm Indemnity Company will cut its rates in New Jersey. As a result, its overall personal auto rate will drop by up to 2.7%. The total state-wide expected impact for State Farm Indemnity Company by this rate decrease in New Jersey will be approximately $15.5 million.

“State Farm Indemnity Company always looks to create long-term value for its customers with the products and ...

Let's Talk About Suicide

In our world today, it seems our children, no matter the town, state, education, family unit, socioeconomic background, ethnicity or religion are grappling with complex, confounding and complicated issues not even fit for a middle-aged adult. Sadly, one of these issues is suicide. With mental health gaining more attention, the stigma appears to be dissipating but when a mental health ...

Cool Ways to Save Money This Summer

As the summer temperatures rise, home cooling costs rise as well. But there are ways to help save money without sweating the heat:

To increase your cooling system’s efficiency by as much as 20%, get it checked out for summer.  A technician will clean the condenser, make sure you have the optimal amount of refrigerant, and ensure the airflow over the coil is ...

Understand the New Law for Paid Sick Leave

Paid sick leave is now the law in New Jersey.

New Jersey has passed a paid sick leave law which preempts paid sick leave ordinances adopted by several cities and towns so there is now one uniform law in this area for New Jersey employers. Here is what you need to know about the new law.

33 Homes Sold June 10 to June 17 in Westfield, Scotch Plains, Fanwood, Mountainside & Cranford

Thirty-three Homes sold from June 10 to June 17, 2018, in Westfield, Scotch Plains, Fanwood, Cranford and Mountainside.*


TOWN         ADDRESS                      STYLE    ...

Westfield 3rd Graders Receive Top Honors at Mock Trial Competition

Westfield third graders recently received top honors for three mock court cases they presented at the New Jersey Bar Foundation Law Fair.

“I am proud that, out of 84 entries submitted, our third grade students (now fourth graders) in the Gifted Program have won 1st Place, 2nd Place and Honorable Mention in the 3rd Grade category [of the Law Fair ...

Maximizing Your Portfolio’s Returns -- Beware the Taxman

The old adage in the investment world is that it is not what you make, but what you keep that counts.  Investors often overlook the ultimate deflator of portfolio returns – the taxman. An astute global asset allocation should be the number one priority for investors.  However, there are preferred ways to distribute this asset allocation over the spectrum of taxable and ...


In honor of the Lubavitcher Rebbe's (of righteous memory) 24th  Yahrtzeit (anniversary of his passing) this coming Saturday the 16th.

Excerpts from an address given by Nobel-laureate Elie Wiesel on April 7, 1992, at a congressional dinner held in Washington on the occasion of the Rebbe's 90th birthday.

Some of you are aware of my admiration, not only ...

Healthy U Spring Symposium Marks 10 Years of Community Impact

WESTFIELD, NJ — More than 100 Healthy U champions and partners from YMCAs and schools from all over the state gathered at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford on May 18 to celebrate 10 years of community impact. Healthy U was also formally presented with the 2017 CATCH® Award for Excellence in State Health. 

CATCH (Coordinated Approach to Child Health) is the ...


AtlantiCast: Episode 16

Summer is in the air, and the latest episode of AtlantiCast is ready to help you enjoy some fun outdoors while staying safe! This week’s episode opens with tips for sunscreen usage from Atlantic Health System’s Chief Medical and Academic Officer, Dr. Jan Schwarz-Miller. You’ll also learn about how Atlantic Health System is advancing the future of health care through ...

Bridgewater Mall Shut Down for 2 Hours After Fight Breaks Out

June 14, 2018

BRIDGEWATER, NJ — No injuries have been reported after a fight involving a crowd of people shut down the Bridgewater Commons Mall for two hours Thursday evening.

According to a Nixle alert from the Bridgewater Township Police Department at 9 p.m., the investigation at the mall has been completed, and the mall was resuming normal business operations.

According to Somerset County ...


Eric Lieberman, 47, of Scotch Plains, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly Tuesday, May 22, 2018 ...
Read more