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Objector Comes Forward Against Westwood 7-Eleven Plan

Bruce Meisel said he was opposing the project because of a conflict between the application and Westwood's Master Plan.

A plan for a new strip mall on Kinderkamack Road is facing some opposition near the end of its application.

Bruce Meisel, a local property owner and the president and CEO of Pascack Community Bank, announced at the Westwood Zoning Board meeting Monday that he planned to formally oppose a plan to build a 8,051-square-foot, five-unit strip mall at the former Chevrolet of Westwood on Kinderkamack Road.

At the same meeting, the last of the applicant's experts completed giving testimony about the plan.

Meisel said he was concerned about a requested use variance to allow a convenience store, likely a 7-Eleven, to occupy part of the shopping center. That use was not included among the borough's recent changes to its Master Plan, a document which sets what uses and types of buildings are allowed in different areas of towns.

"To change the Master Plan at this time, when the ink is not even dry, is a detriment to the town," Meisel said.

David Lafferty, the attorney representing the applicant, questioned why Meisel waited to raise his objection until the night when the last testimony for the application was given.

"I'm not sure the timing is appropriate," Lafferty said.

Meisel asked that the application be carried to the board's March meeting so he could hire experts to testify against the plan. Lafferty said he believed it should be heard at Monday's meeting or at the board's next meeting on February 4.

Board officials decided they would carry the public comment portion of the application to their February 4 meeting and would decide then whether or not they would carry it again to March.

The board rejected a similar application last spring because of concerns similar to Meisel's. The main difference with the first plan was that the developer had requested a "general retail use" variance.

The Master Plan allows some retail uses, like car dealerships and large appliance stores, at the site. Norman Dorf, the property owner, previously testified that he did not believe those kinds of businesses could be successful at the site.

Have a question or news tip? Contact editor Jim Leggate at Jim.Leggate@patch.com, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

21st century concerned citizen January 12, 2013 at 03:10 PM
Folks Lets take a look around Bergen County and see what other towns look like when the have a proliferation of convenience stores. Have you ever been to Market Street in Saddle Brook? Looks like the township planners were participating in The Witness Protection Program when they approved a "Hodgepodge" of retail establishments. Yes they do collect the taxes but the quality of life is at question and certainly aethestically it looks terriible (by the way I grew up in Saddle Brook) and now have live in Westwood for 34 years. Why didn't I buy a house in Saddle Brook when I grew up there,? Because of the aesthetics of the town including that Market Street. Cars are crossing from one side of the street to the other side going from one retailer to another. Now let's look at what Emerson is doing with their new buildings. They are putting up attractive multi=use buildings both for renters and retail. This is what we should be looking at for the lots on Kinderkamack Road. Not a strip mall with a 7 Eleven. If as citizens of Westwood we are going to accept any type of retail establishment then we are going to downgrade our property values and bring undersirables into our town. I am certainly not against change, but I want change to be positive not negative. And again, I will go on record for Meisel. The buildings he built to replace the eyescore in town are upscale and attractive. They house upscale restaurants and a bank and are multiuse. NO 7 ELEVEN
21st century concerned citizen January 13, 2013 at 10:22 PM
Folks there will be additional Westwood Citizens who will go to the next meeting and object to a 7 Eleven strip mall. While there has been criticism of Meisel in this comment stream, the person who wants to build this strip mall also does not live in Westwood. It certainly does appear that we are having outsiders trying to make westwood a blue collar town instead of an upscale town with rising property values. For additional reference take a look what Edgewater did with a parcel of land on River Road. They build a strip of multi-use buildings, renters on the top floor and retail on the ground floor. Restaurants like Flemings steak house, etc. We should not settle for a smokers paradise owned by an outsider who wants to lower our property values to benefit himself
Westwood Mom January 18, 2013 at 12:36 AM
Meisel tore down houses... that were his to begin with on property he owned. All that was built on the previous Westwood Chevrolet Car Dealership plot of land. 'Somehow' he managed to do it without ample parking for the restaurants that are there... The traffic study plan that he paid to have done so those buildings could go in changed the traffic patterns in town & the 3 way traffic light taken out (which previously eased the traffic going into the center of town from Washington Avenue). Bravo!
21st century concerned citizen January 27, 2013 at 06:59 PM
Amazing how the comments on this issue continue to be pointed at meisel when all he is doing is challenging the proposed Seven Eleven in a strip mall. When my family and I look at what Meisel built to replace two homes that were occupied by squatters and an old eyesore that was once a Chevy Dealership all of his buildings are 1st quality real estate. But Meisel is not the issue here. The issue is an outsider who wants to build another strip of stores on Kinderkamack Road. We do not need or want a 7 Eleven in Westwood. Look what Emerson did with their recent commercial construction. Rental Units on the top floor and retail on the bottom. Look what Park Ridge just finished on Park Avenue. Rental Units on the top floor and retail on the bottom. Both are attractive buildings and enhance the town appeal not degrade property values. Again, there will be other Westwood residents who will fight the 7 Eleven proposal as they are concerned about their property values and they are correct that it will make them less attractive to prospective buyers. A 7 Eleven in any town has never increased property values.
Westwood Mom January 28, 2013 at 02:13 AM
Let me explain, Meisel irritates long time residents because he challenges almost EVERYTHING any other business & business property owner attempts to do. As for those houses you keep bringing up - Mr. Meisel (an "outsider" himself) deliberately let them fall into disrepair to create the ILLUSION he was bettering the town while making our traffic patterns more dangerous. He's owned that property since the Dealership left, he could have torn those houses down long ago. ON TOP OF THAT he gets around town ordinances that others would have no hope getting around because of his personal relationships with members of the Westwood Zoning Board. As I mentioned earlier there are probably better "options" for that location but many of those "options" steer clear of this town now because they know of the headaches they will have to deal with if they attempt to do so. I agree, the construction in Park Ridge etc. is very attractive. The problem is rental properties wind up RAISING property taxes, they bring more children into the schools... What IS attractive to prospective buyers is low taxes, good schools & easy accessibility to public transportation. Both Emerson & Park Ridge taxes are VERY high. The two 7-11 locations in Hillsdale & RiverVale may not have increased property values BUT they certainly did not lower them OR increase their tax rates, what they do is increase the towns' ratables. LOWER TAXES is key to many residents in town - let this man fill these empty buildings!!

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