WESTFIELD, NJ — As a land use planner, he served towns across northern and central New Jersey, helping municipal leaders make decisions to guide development for years to come.

But it is in his hometown of Westfield where people are most feeling Jeffrey Janota’s loss as community leaders, family and friends mourn his unexpected death.

“Jeff was not just a planner, he was a long time Westfield resident, and it showed in his commitment and passion for protecting and advocating for our town’s interests in the master plan process,” said Mayor Shelley Brindle at Tuesday’s town council session.

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Janota, 50, died Monday, his obituary says. He had recently led an extensive re-examination of Westfield’s master plan — something anticipated to guide the town’s future.

“More important than his professional contributions, Jeff will most be remembered as a friend and neighbor to many, a husband to his beloved Toni, and devoted dad to daughter, Andie, and son, Cooper,” Brindle said.

Janota’s death came unexpectedly, following complications from a recent surgery, the mayor said.

A planner with H2M Architects + Engineers, Janota’s work extended beyond Westfield to Garwood, New Providence, Boonton and Little Falls, among other places.

While that work included writing reports, people were key for him as he helped local leaders seek extensive public input for those writings. In Westfield, that played out in a series of community workshops and surveys, in addition to town council and planning board meetings.

A Staten Island native, Janota graduated from Marist College in 1993 with a degree in environmental science. He later earned a master’s degree from Rutgers University in city planning, his obituary says.

He met his wife, Toni, on a blind date and spent several years with her in Hoboken before marrying her in 2002, the obituary says. In Westfield, he joined the Echo Lake Country Club, where he enjoyed his days on the golf course with his father, Larry, the obituary says.

“Jeff was always surrounded by an amazing group of friends he made through high school and college,” his family wrote. “The consummate host, he loved to entertain and always did it with a sense of humor and style.”

Paying respects

A wake is scheduled 4 — 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 11, at Higgins & Bonner Echo Lake Funeral Home in Westfield. All are welcome to attend and celebrate Janota’s life. Interment will be held for family and friends Friday, Feb. 12, at 10 a.m. at Fairview Cemetery in Westfield.

In lieu of flowers, family is asking that donations be sent to Imagine, A Center for Coping with Loss in Mountainside.

Email Matt Kadosh at mkadosh@tapinto.net | Twitter: @MattKadosh

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