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Borough Examining Historic Status For Westwood Ave.

Some property owners in the area are concerned about permissions they will need for renovations if the plan goes through.

Westwood Avenue between Broadway and Kinderkamack Road may become the next historic district in the borough.

A report prepared for the Westwood Historic Commission earlier this year found the three-block stretch of Westwood Avenue, along with some sites on Center and Fairview Avenues, were noteworthy because of the area's "association with the transformation of Westwood Borough's commercial district from a hamlet in the early 20th century into a thriving regional commercial destination by the mid 20th century."

Downtown Westwood is home to many different architectural styles, according to the report. Notable buildings mentioned by the report include the Art Moderne 1 Westwood Ave., the Art Deco 30-48 Westwood Ave., the Colonial Revival-inspired 51-85 Westwood Ave. and mid-20th-century commercial architecture including 206 Center Ave.

If the area is designated a historic district, the historic commission will review any changes to the exterior of the buildings and propety owners will need a certificate from the planning board to proceed with their plans.

Property owners interviewed by Patch said they were concerned by the additional government oversight.

Richard Heck, of , said he opposed the plan. The Heck building at 206 Center Ave. was among those listed in the report.

"I think it's completely unnecessary and adds another level of regulation," Heck said. "It's certainly going to slow things down for anyone who wants to do anything."

Mike Viola of said he supported the idea of a historic area, but was concerned about the change lowering the value of his and other buildings.

"You effectively cede a lot of economic rights to an unelected committee, the historic commission," Viola said.

Viola said he would want the town to bring in an outside appraiser to determine what change would be made to the values of the properties, and that the owners' taxes should be altered accordingly.

In a letter to affected property owners, the commission wrote "studies have shown that property values rise faster in historic districts than in non-designated areas, owing to the 'curb appeal' of the sense of place secured by district protection."

"That would be great, and then I'd have to pay more taxes," Viola said. "But it's not going to happen."

The borough created its first historic district last year, which consists of five buildings on Jefferson Avenue.

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

Glenn M. Muller August 03, 2012 at 12:55 PM
This is just another needless attempt at regulation by the borough council a/k/a "The Good Idea Committee". They attempt to micromanage the types of businesses that can operate in the borough and even the signage they can put their in their windows and now they want to stifle improvements in the downtown area by declaring it a historic district. What's next, a dress code?
Barry Black August 03, 2012 at 03:29 PM
Westwood officials must think their town is the Paris of north Jersey! Actually, the buildings mentioned, in the article, are poor examples of the described architecture. When the time comes----raze them!
Pete August 03, 2012 at 04:34 PM
How about waiting to hear what kind of plan might develop out of a historic designation?  Nationwide, Main Streets programs have helped to coordinate and strengthen historic business district development, a rising tide that raises all boats.  In a big-box era retail sinks or swims on sense of place and destination.  The Pascack Valley is losing an alarming amount of its distinctive places to a flood of cookie-cutter bank branches and chain drug stores.  It's easy to say now that steps to keep the district intact are overbearing, but when Lewis Drug and Bergen County Camera get torn down for another of the ubiquitous TD Bank drive-throughs, there will be an uproar about why nothing was done to preserve Westwood's strong downtown character when there was a chance. Just take a stroll up the road to Emerson or Woodcliff Lake. Residents and planners in both are wringing their hands over how to develop contrived facsimiles of what Westwood already has.

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