WESTFIELD, NJ — A years-long legal battle over the proposed expansion of Downtown Westfield’s Stop & Shop could be over by as soon as June, Town Attorney Russell Finestein told the Westfield Town Council during Tuesday’s conference meeting.
The town made its oral argument in appellate court Tuesday morning, nearly two years after a superior court judge’s decision to allow the expansion was appealed.
“I thought it went very well,” Finestein told the council.
Finestein said that he is optimistic that the planning board’s 2013 decision to allow Stop & Shop to expand will be affirmed by the court, “but we will not know, probably, until June, July,” he said.
In June 2015, many hoped that the legal battle fought for years over the expansion of the had finally come to a close after Judge Karen Cassidy of the Superior Court of New Jersey affirmed the planning board’s decision to allow Stop & Shop to expand.
The plaintiff appealed just before the 45-day deadline.
Stop & Shop first filed its application with the planning board in August 2012. In December 2013, The Westfield Planning Board approved Stop & Shop’s application for the demolition of existing office space, expansion of its parking lot and construction of an 18,129-foot addition, as well as multiple variances.
In March 2014, James Hughes of Westfield, who Stop & Shop has claimed is merely a “straw man” for a competitor, filed his complaint.
“If it goes forward, it will be a big project for the town,” Finestein said at a past town council conference meeting. “Mainly it was an attempt by Shop Rite to, I think, stop Stop & Shop from expanding.”
Stop & Shop is located at 219 Elm St. in Downtown Westfield.