Dear Editor:
 
Did you know that Westfield has no law prohibiting retail businesses from operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week (24/7)?  If you’re wondering why you cannot buy gas or visit an auto body repair shop or public garage after 11 p.m. — it’s illegal in Westfield. However, 24/7 retail businesses are free to operate in Westfield without restriction.
 
Many Westfield residents value its small-town character and see it as an oasis from the strip malls and all-night retail traffic of surrounding towns. 24/7 retail businesses add nothing to Westfield’s image or property values. Most Westfield residents who need to buy milk or some other household staple in the middle of the night know that they can simply drive to any one of a half-dozen 24/7 convenience (7-Eleven/Quick Chek) or grocery (Clark Shop-Rite) stores located within a short drive of any part of Town. Do we really need a local business that satisfies a perceived need for all-night purchases of cigarettes, lottery tickets, soda and coffee?
 
Third Ward residents are currently opposing a proposed convenience store at the corner of Central Avenue and Grove Street — immediately adjacent to a residential neighborhood — that would operate 24/7. This proposed 24/7 business is certain to become both a target for criminals, like those local convenience stores and gas stations that were targeted by four individuals arrested last month (see "Four Arrested in Westfield Gas Station Robberies" on TAP into Westfield) and a new after-hours ‘hang out’ for local youth.
 
I encourage those of you who care about Westfield’s future to join your fellow residents and voice your concerns regarding this proposed 24/7 convenience store at the next Planning Board meeting on 12/9 at 7:30 p.m. You can also take action by contacting your council members and encourage them to amend the town code and regulate the operating hours of retail businesses within our town’s borders.