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Hospital Approval Upheld, Schroeder's Army Debarment, Sober Living Home Opposition Top This Week's News

Here's a look at the past week in Westwood, Hillsdale and Washington Township.

Westwood Hospital's Approval Upheld by Appeals Court

The former Pascack Valley Hospital in Westwood is set to reopen as planned under new management next year after a court ruled in the hospital's favor Tuesday.

A three-judge panel decided that they would uphold the approval of Hackensack University Medical Center at Pascack Valley in Westwood.

Englewood Hospital and Medical Center and the Valley Hospital in Ridgewood had jointly appealed State Health Commissioner Mary O'Dowd's decision to approve the new hospitalat the site of the former Pascack Valley Hospital, which closed in 2007. The decision was "arbitrary and capricious," according to the appeal.

The judges cited O'Dowd's expertise and rejected claims from the appealing hospitals that there had been procedural deficiencies and that the decision had been made "to appease voters." 

Schroeder Facing Army Debarment

The U.S. Army has moved to debar State Assemblyman Robert Schroeder from doing business with the federal government, according to a report on BusinessWeek.com.

The decision follows a suspension of Schroeder and his two Hillsdale-based companies, All Points International Distributors (API) and Hercules Global Logistics, by the Special Investigator General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) because he allegedly failed to deliver tents to a military base in Afghanistan and failed to pay about $155,000 to an Afghan subcontractor.

The U.S. government paid API $617,000 for the aircraft maintenance tents, according to a quarterly SIGAR report.

Sober Home Near School Opposed by Hundreds of Hillsdale Residents

A plan for a proposed sober living home on Magnolia Avenue is facing opposition from a group of Hillsdale residents.

The residents have gathered more than 400 signatures for a petition and submitted a letter to the Hillsdale Planning Board Tuesday requesting the hearing be adjourned to a meeting early next year so they can have more time to research the issue and decide whether or not they want to hire an attorney to formally object to the application.

Board members said at a meeting Wednesday that they would wait until the December 18 meeting to decide whether or not to hold off on beginning the application. The objectors will have to give their reasons for wanting a delay at that meeting.

The site of the former Chevrolet dealership on Kinderkamack Road will likely never be home to another car dealer, according to Norman Dorf, the property's owner.

The site is currently being examined by the Westwood Zoning Board as a possible location for a new five-unit strip mall which would be anchored by a 7-Eleven. The applicant has requested a variance to allow the convenience store use at the site as part of the plan because they are not permitted in that "limited business" zone.

Dorf's family ran the dealership from 2001 to 2006, when it closed. The site was not ideal even then because most large car dealerships had moved to highways, he said. The only other business that looked at the site since then was Subaru, which decided against using it, Dorf said.

"We couldn't get it to be profitable," Dorf said.

The developer, Nicholas Aynilian, plans to demolish the existing 11,500-square-foot showroom and replace it with a new 8,051-square-foot strip mall. The application is similar to one previously heard by the board, but the request for the convenience store use to be allowed replaces a request for "general retail" to be allowed at the site in the first application. The original application was denied by the board last spring.

Westwood Woman Pleads Guilty to Role in Mortgage Scheme

A Westwood woman on Friday pleaded guilty to her role in a mortgage scheme that landed the county's former financing agency head in federal prison, according to a report on northjersey.com.

The newspaper reports Fatima Muller, 48, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Newark on charges she made numerous false statements on loan applications.

The applications containing those false statements were processed by Ridgewood-based Residential Mortgage Corp., the mortgage company founded by Ronald J. O'Malley.

O'Malley, of Upper Saddle River, is serving a two-year prison sentence for masterminding the scheme, which federal prosecutors said netted more than $200,000 from eight banks.

Flooding Worries Neighbors of Proposed Westwood Subdivision

Neighbors of a Fourth Avenue property are worried that a proposed subdivision could cause a stream to flood their homes.

The Westwood Zoning Board began hearing an application this week to subdivide 484-486 Fourth Avenue and build a second home on the newly-created lot. The plan calls for an existing 14,240-square-foot lot which currently contains a two-family home to be split into a 7,505-square-foot lot and a 6,735-square-foot lot. The existing home, located on the corner of Fourth Avenue and Boulevard, would remain and the property owner would build a new one-family home facing Boulevard.

Neighbors said they were concerned about a stream which passes through the property via a 24-inch pipe. The borough has a 10-foot wide easement for the waterway and a catch basin.

Acting CFO Updating Washington Twp. Ledger Despite Council Vote

Washington Township has a new temporary acting CFO to update the town's financial ledger, even though the council voted against hiring herat their last meeting.

"This is the first we're hearing of it," Councilman Fred Goetz said at a council meeting Monday.

Mayor Janet Sobkowicz said it was necessary to bring on the acting CFO so that the ledger could be updated in time for the 2013 budget.

Irish Eyes Imports Closing

Irish Eyes Imports, a shop specializing in all things from the Emerald Isle, will be closing their doors after more than 25 years of business in Bergen County.

Owner Gene Callaghan said they were forced to close the store because of the poor economy.

"We just can't make people spend money they don't have," Callaghan said.

Hillsdale Police Hire New Officer

The Hillsdale Police Department recently hired a new officer to replace one who left.

After former Hillsdale Patrolman Ramon Cruz left for a job in Bergenfield, the department hired Alex Kaplan, according to Police Chief Chip Stalter. Kaplan started training with the department Monday.

Kaplan, a Hillsdale resident, has volunteered with the Essex County Sheriff's Department and is also a firefighter and member of the Tri-Boro Ambulance Corps.

JW Tumbles Moves to Hillsdale

A new business in Hillsdale hopes to improve children's physical and social skills in a clean, friendly setting.

JW Tumbles moved from their old location in Park Ridge and opened in Hillsdale November 10, according to owner Manish Vakil.

The business offers classes for children in which the gym's staff — who are trained in fields like dance and exercise — help kids ranging from 4 months to 6 years progress from taking their first steps to jumping, tumbling and more. They also show parents how they can help their children improve motor skills in a social setting.

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