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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.

Barry Black January 09, 2013 at 03:09 PM
Oh for Goodness Sakes-----just build something there already!!!!!!!!!
David January 09, 2013 at 03:54 PM
Simple case of local property owner trying to stop progress to protect his self-interest instead of improving his own product to gain the competitive advantage. This is why I read the Patch it offers transparency and hopefully accountability from the people (the board in this case) that is suppose to "do the right thing" for Westwood citizens.
21st century concerned citizen January 09, 2013 at 08:20 PM
We do not need another 24x7 retail outlet for kids to hand out in westwood nj. The Zoning Board should adhere to their standards. We want to upgrade our town not downgrade it with a place to buy smokes and candy. There is a 24x7 convenience store a couple of blocks away in Emerson. One is enough
eileen January 09, 2013 at 09:42 PM
Mr. Meisel has much too much to say about what goes on in this town. He may be a "business" owner, but he is not a resident. It is not his town, although he may think it is.
scruffy January 09, 2013 at 11:01 PM
Yes, Eileen Mr. Meisel has WAY too much to say about OUR town. He thinks he owns it and while he does own a significant portion of real estate in Westwood he needs to be mindful as does the Zoning Board that is all. He is NOT in charge, we the people have not elected him to speak for us and we do not forget when he crosses the line and acts like he is in charge. Although perhaps this is not the perfect fit for everyone we all need to be mindful that the car dealerships could no longer make a go as the economy changed in this country as did where people bought the cars. There are not a lot of other options out there. So do we sit by and have an empty area forever, a dilapidated look as well as a possible hangout as is since the building are empty. This seems to be the new thing to have a CVS, 7-Eleven, Dunkin Donuts, etc in every town. Open your eyes and look around.
The Cardinal January 09, 2013 at 11:15 PM
To all the newbies in town, welcome to Meiselville!
21st century concerned citizen January 10, 2013 at 03:42 PM
I have been a resident of Westwood for 34 years and I do not want another 24x7 convenience store in our neighborhood. During my 34 years in Westwood I have traveled extensively for the International companies that I have worked for and have observed many neighborhoods in most of the states throughout our country. The upscale communities do not have a proliferation of 24x7 convenience stores which is an important factor in keeping up their real estate values and quality of life. Yes, I do look around quite often and as citizens of Westwood we should all have a vision of the future. Hackensack Hospital will be reopening the Pascack site this year. Perhaps the former car dealership lot can become medical offices or a support business for the hospital. Perhaps it can become a strip retail space with upscale shops but certainly not a place to hang out and smoke cigarettes. I know of Mr Meisell's reputation, but I do applaud him for fighting the 7-Eleven which we do not need. I would rather have an empty building than a hangout
CP January 10, 2013 at 04:23 PM
7 Elevens are NOT good for ANY community: Major profit is from sale of alcohol, tobacco and Red Bulls.....also, read the news and talk to area Police Departments. You will find they are crime magnets diverting your police resources. Not good by any means!
Westwood Mom January 11, 2013 at 04:18 AM
Please... Brucey just doesn't want a 7-11 to take business away from the Convenience Store in the building he owns in the center of Westwood (selling cigarettes, alchohol & Red Bull) where the kids hang out outside of the CVS, in the doorways, smoking cigarettes then going into Meisel's property housing Starbucks! Maybe the applicant could get Dunkin Donuts interested in the property, it is a corner lot - perfect for a drive-thru!!! Not too long ago, Mr. Meisel bullied Schroeder out of leasing his property to Dunkin Donuts equipped with a drive-thru. Maybe Bob could have paid back some of his "investors" with the rental income. Meisel has no concern for the community, his concern lies in one place - HIS pocket.
21st century concerned citizen January 11, 2013 at 04:40 PM
The point is as a long time citizen of Westwood, I do not want a 7 Eleven in our town. The proposed location is accross the street from a Pre-School and we do not need the added short term traffic that is generated when smokers want to pick up a pack of cigarettes. We do not need the pre-schoolers seeing people smoking in front of the store and cigarette butts littering our properties. Let's not even bring up Schroeder's name as that is another issue that will be in the paper's for months to come. Miesel may have other issues but the issue here is a quality of life issue for the residents of Westwood. WE DO NOT WANT A 7 ELEVEN!!
21st century concerned citizen January 11, 2013 at 04:46 PM
Let's drop the Meisel reference. The issue is a 7 Eleven in Westwood. One of their primary products is cigarettes. We do not want smokers standing in front of the store especially with a pre-school accross the street. Smokers do not care about the environment. They pollute the air and litter our roads and properties with cigarette butts. Look in front of the Quick Check a couple of blocks away from the proposed location. you will see the smokers. Look in the parking lot and you will see the litter. This is not a Miesel issue. It is a quality of Life issue for the residents of Westwood. We want to see improvements to our community so our property values can increase
CP January 11, 2013 at 07:43 PM
Just read the news....big difference in crimes at a 7 Eleven vs. those at CVS, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts......Also, 7 Eleven vs. CVS, more unhealthy options per sq. foot in 7 eleven, I would rather have/use a CVS any day.....don't let your anger for Mr. Meisel take over your sensibility.....I am sure you are a smart Mom, I am not trying to be sarcastic. 7-Eleven is not a healthy option for our families and children.....
PeterB January 11, 2013 at 08:42 PM
That property is not the type of property that CVS would use. I find it funny that you are you saying that smokers will make the town look worse. What is worse than looking at an empty worn down lot? And as far as the pre-school kids seeing people smoke across the street, are you for real? Forty years ago people were smoking more cigarettes than today and yet I have never picked up a cigarette. How bout parents being parents and teaching their kids what is wrong and right. So enough with the scare tactics its a silly argument. Anything that brings in taxables and is a good decent business should be considered. If there is something that you don't agree with you don't have to go there, its that simple.
Westwood Mom January 11, 2013 at 10:36 PM
Drop the Meisel reference? Mr. Meisel is the one referenced in the above article as the "objector" to the 7-11. Every time ANY business or property owner wants to do something in town it is he that is objecting. He doesn't want anything to compete with any of the businesses that are housed within his properties. As shown above, he doesn't want 7-11 to compete with the Convenience Store in Center Square. Just as Meisel didn't want a Dunkin Donuts to compete with Starbucks, he also objected to Pompillio's Pizzeria expanding into a restaurant to compete with the restaurant business in Center Square. Personally I don't think another 7-11 is necessary - with the Quick Check down the street and one in Hillsdale already. I would much prefer a Dunkin Donuts. Quality of Life in a town like Westwood is being able to shop, have a meal, go for a walk etc. in the downtown instead of going to the Mall or Highway. As far as Property Values, they do much better with thriving Business Districts which equates to lower property taxes. We already have the advantage of the bus & train accessibility. Improvements within OUR Community would come about by encouraging businesses to grow & come into town NOT by deterring them every step of the way. Westwood's downtown is starting to come alive again... why not encourage business to come & fill the rest of our empty EXISTING properties so they are not such an ear sore?
Westwood Mom January 12, 2013 at 12:39 AM
CP - Please read what I actually wrote. Honestly, I think there are better options for that sight if they want a permanent tenant but that is only my opinion. On the other hand, the 7-11 in Hillsdale has been a constant in that town for as far back as I can remember - other than having to chase the teenagers from hanging out from time to time it hasn't harmed that town any. My children think of 7-11 as a place to go get "Slurpees" at... We already have an expanding CVS in town so that's not an option and from what I understand Dunkin Donuts probably won't bother trying to come to Westwood again. Any of the options you mentioned above need a variance anyway same as a 7-11. I don't know Mr. Meisel, only of his actions, I have no anger towards him since thankfully I have not had any direct dealings with him. He is just a constant irritating presence in town - when YOU hit heavy traffic trying to get through town during rush hour... incurred by the traffic pattern changes made... "sensibility" should take over - realize Mr. Meisel can be thanked for that one too! It's a shame, none of the OTHER business' property owners in town are a visible negative like him. I've been watching him for over 20 years now. Bruce Meisel just acts like the spoiled little rich kid that he is - when he wants something he does whatever it takes to get it no matter the cost to others.
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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