WESTFIELD, NJ – A seemingly split decision by the planning board was left up in the air on Monday night when an applicant looking to subdivide a property on Linden Avenue withdrew his request prior to the voting process.
Represented by former Westfield Councilman James Foerst, applicant Ralph Rapuano came to the board seeking two variances to allow the large corner property of 142 Linden Avenue to become one 10,000 square-foot lot and one 8,739 square-foot property. Westfield’s Land Use Ordinance requires a minimum lot area of 10,000 square feet in any RS-10 zone.
Rapuano’s proposal was met with fervid public opposition from residents in the Linden, Saunders and Jefferson neighborhood, who emphasized maintaining the “character of the neighborhood.”
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“For those unaware of the Linden, Saunders, Jefferson area, it is a particularly beautiful part of Westfield and everyone is here tonight, and has been here very patiently, to protect their investment and to protect that area and neighborhood,” Mark Peters, a resident of Linden Avenue, said.
While the notion of community preservation swayed board members Pam Wiaczek and Darielle Walsh, evidence provided by Foerst revealing 12 of 15 existing lots in the surrounding area are nonconforming (under 10,000 square feet) caused hesitation.
“I do find it a little bit interesting – I was going to say ironic, but I’ll say interesting – that if I add the square footages of lots one and two, seven and eight, nine and 10, 11 and 12, 13 and 14, they all add up 18,739 square feet. At one time these were all subdivided,” board member Sam Della Fera said.
Ultimately, a failed second motion to approve the variances would cause Foerst and Rapuano to pull the application before any vote was made final.
The planning board also reviewed two additional applications, granting the subdivision of 121 Benson Place into two equally sized lots and a parking variance for Amazing Lash Studio, which will replace a portion of the vacant Staples at 225 E. Broad Street.