Westwood 7-Eleven Plan Opposed by Neighbors
Residents who live on Kingsberry Avenue, near the former Chevy dealer, asked the Westwood Zoning Board to reject the application for a strip mall on Kinderkamack Road.
The board heard comments from the public about the plan during their meeting Monday, including some both against and in favor of the plan for the new 8,051-square-foot mall at the former Chevrolet of Westwood near Emerson.
Kingsberry Avenue resident Michael Meisten said he was worried about safety for children who live on the street or play baseball at the field at the far end, who might be tempted to cross Kinderkamack Road to reach a 7-Eleven.
Meisten also said he was opposed to the plan because 7-Elevens generally are open 24 hours per day and he was concerned that patrons from nearby bars may venture there "after a night of drinking."
Patrick Flannery, another Kingsberry Avenue resident, said he believed that other nearby 7-Elevens in Hillsdale, River Vale and Park Ridge, as well as the Quick Chek "30 seconds away" in Emerson, made another convenience store unnecesary for the site.
Both Meisten and Flannery also said they were concerned about additonal traffic the mall might create, noting that the intersection of Kinderkamack and Kingsberry is already very busy.
"You have to inch out and pray that one of these [vehicles] is not going to hit your car," Flannery said.
Both men said they would be happy to have a new business occupy the site, but not one open 24 hours per day.
Norman Dorf, who owns the property but is not the applicant, said he believed the strip mall would look better than the current vacant showroom.
"It's an eyesore," Dorf said. "It's been vacant for five years."
Dorf cited a recently-opened 7-Eleven in his home town of Tenefly, which he said does not look like "a typical 7-Eleven" and was built on a formerly vacant site.
"I think it's a lot better," Dorf said. "It's aesthetically pleasing."
Bruce Meisel, another Westwood property owner who is objecting to the application, also gave some testimony during the meeting Monday. Meisel said he was opposed to the plan because it conflicts with the borough's Master Plan, which was re-examined in 2011.
Meisel will continue his testimony at the board's next meeting. Peter Steck, a professional planner hired by Meisel, will also testify about the plan at the meeting.
David Lafferty, the applicant's attorney, said he was willing to hold the vote until the next meeting because there were only six board members present at Monday's meeting. The applicant is entitled to have seven members vote and will need five affirmative votes for the plan to be approved.
The next meeting of the Westwood Zoning Board is scheduled for March 4 at 8 p.m. in the Municipal Complex.