Westwood Flood Buyouts, 7-Eleven Objection, Ronnie's Bagels New Owners Top This Week's News
Here's a look at the past week in Westwood, Washington Township and Hillsdale.
Westwood closed on three flood-prone properties last week, allowing homeowners who had been in limbo since Hurricane Irene to finally move on with their lives.
The borough closed on 55 and 46 Harding Avenue Thursday morning and 60 Harding Avenue Friday morning, according to Borough Administrator Robert Hoffmann. The purchases were made with a portion of $2,068,057 in grants, including about $1.5 million from FEMA and the rest from the Department of Environmental Protection's Green Acres program.
As a part of the buyout program, FEMA required the borough to have the homes appraised, which set the prices to be paid. Grant money was also used to cover costs like the appraisers. The amounts paid for the three homes were $324,357.87, $420,000.00 and $297,716.00, according to Hoffmann.
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.
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.
Big changes are in the works at a once-popular local bagel place.
Ronnie's Hot Bagels, located at 118 Broadway in Hillsdale, recently reopened with new owners who have a number of changes planned for the shop, including lower prices — they've already lowered them, but the changes aren't final — better quality food made fresh on location and better service, according to Anthony Minuto, one of the new owners.
"We want to improve it," Minuto said. "We're happy to have the opportunity to build it up and see it grow."
The Westwood Regional Board of Education picked Roberta Hanlon as its president and Darlene Mandeville as its vice president for 2013 during the board's annual reorganization meeting last week.
"We've had some great accomplishments in the district and I'm proud to take over and continue the momentum," Hanlon said.
Hanlon told Patch she was aware that many people were focused on some recent controversies in the district, but hoped to focus on continuing positives like the recent state approval of the district's teacher evaluation instruments.
A plan for a unique playhouse on Kinderkamack Road was appoved this week, but the application did not include the "golden age" movie theater which was originally planned.
The applicant proposed to revitalize a former law office at 312 Kinderkamack Road with a playhouse and two unspecified medical offices. The Westwood Zoning Board unanimously approved the plan during their meeting Monday night.
The playhouse will be similar to the New Jersey Children's Museum in Paramus but with more emphasis on dramatic play, according to Lorraine Barratta, one of the future playhouse's owners. The playhouse will feature various areas with different themes, such as a barnyard with stuffed animals and a construction site with Lego bricks, Barratta previously testified.
Hillsdale's four newest council members took their oaths of office and Tom Kelley was voted as the council's president during the borough's annual reorganization meeting Sunday.
Officials were positive about the past year and optimistic for 2013. Mayor Max Arnowitz spoke about some of 2012's big issues, including Hurricane Sandy, improvements to the borough's finances and the decision to keep emergency dispatching in the police department. Despite some disagreements over appointees, Arnowitz was also positive about working with the four Democrats now sitting on the council.
Council members also said they wanted to work together to do "the best things for Hillsdale" and unanimously voted for Tom Kelley to take the position of council president for the next year.
The Bergen County Republican Organization has submitted three nominees for an empty seat on the Hillsdale Council, including two who already served, according to borough officials.
The names are Anthony DeRosa, Frank Pizzella and Frank D'Amico, Mayor Max Arnowitz told Patch. DeRosa and Pizzella both served on the council last year to fill seats left by previous members who resigned, but lost in the election when Democrats won all four council seats. D'Amico is a business owner with a financial background, Arnowitz said.
The new member will be replacing former Council President Michael Giancarlo, who resigned his seat as of December 31 because of time constraints, he previously said. Giancarlo said he had planned to step down for some time, but wanted to wait for the new council to take over so they could pick someone they would be able to work with.
A man taking down Christmas decorations at the Westwood Plaza was rushed to a hospital by helicopter after a coworker accidentally hit him with a bucket crane Thursday afternoon, according to Westwood Police Capt. Frank Durante.
Police received a call about the accident at about 3:18 p.m., Durante said. When officers arrived at the scene, they discovered that a worker in a bucket crane had not seen the victim, a 27-year-old Pennsylvania resident, and accidentally lowered the bucket into the man's head. The two men were taking down Christmas decorations at the strip mall at the time of the accident.