OUR 108th YEAR – ISSUE NO. 31-99 FIFTY CENTS 232-4407
The Westfield Leader — Serving the Town Since 1890 —
Thursday, August 5, 1999 USPS 680020 Periodical – Postage Paid at Westfield, N.J.
Published Every Thursday
INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX
Arts................Page 15 County .......... Page 2 Editorial ........ Page 4
Obituary ........ Page 7 Religious ....... Page 7 Social ............ Page 6
Sports ............ Page 9 CYAN YELLOW MAGENTA BLACK
Wilson School Experiences Bond Projects
By MICHELLE H. LePOIDEVIN
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader
Wilson Elementary School in Westfield recently received the go ahead by state and local officials to build a new library. This project is part of the $11.7 million bond referendum which was approved by voters in December.
The project is estimated to cost $254,400. The Westfield Board of Education has yet to receive bids from construction companies for the project. The library will be completed by January 1, 2000, according to board officials.
According to Business Administrator and Board Secretary Robert Berman, bids will be expected for the library project this month. Bids were originally expected to be received in July.
Flat roof sections will be replaced at an estimated cost of $114,950 from July to September 2000. The project will be bid on in April 2000.
Lavatory renovations to the first and second floors of the school are also expected to be worked on in 2000. The board will receive bids for the two projects in January. Each project is estimated to cost $175,000. Board officials believe that the first floor lavatories will be repaired from July to September 2000, while the
Wilson Elementary School
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Governor Issues Drought Warning as Rainfall Hits 33-Yr. Low In Local Area; Water Restrictions Could Come by September By DEBORAH MADISON
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader
"I have seen heat waves and I have seen droughts, but in 38 years, I have never seen anything like this before,"
said Ray Manfra, Director of Public Works for the Borough of Fanwood.
Mr. Manfra is of course referring to the excessively long hot and dry spell that has gripped New Jersey as
well as much of the Eastern Seaboard and the Ohio Valley for the past month.
Due to the continued lack of rainfall and high temperatures that have resulted in record low streamflows and below normal groundwater and reservoir levels, Governor Christine Todd Whitman announced a statewide drought warning Monday.
The Governor's Office issues drought warnings based on information received from the Department of Environmental Protection, (DEP), which oversees the state's water supplies.
DEP Public Relations Officer Loretta O'Donnell said that the issuance of a drought warning gives the DEP the authority to divert water from adequately supplied reservoirs to those that are below normal capacity. The DEP will hold public hearings later this month, which are required to allow the DEP to order transfers of water, if necessary, between systems.
Currently, New Jersey's four major reservoir systems are at 73.5 percent capacity, when they should be at 83
percent, said Amy Collings, spokeswoman for the DEP.
Elizabethtown Water Company, which serves 54 municipalities in the local area, draws its water supply from a variety of sources including the Raritan River, Delaware River, Milstone River, Spruce Run and Round Valley Reservoirs. Ms. Collings stated that Round Valley and Spruce Run are currently at 84 percent capacity, which is normal for this time of year, while the northern New Jersey reservoirs are below average at 64 percent capacity. Many of New Jersey's rivers are at all-time record lows.
Ray Daly, Professor of Biology and Director of the Cooperative Recording Center at Union County College in Cranford, which is an official weather-recording center for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), reported that normal rainfall for June and July is four to five inches for each month.
According to Mr. Daly, the station recorded only 1.4 inches of rain in June, and only .44 inches of rain in July, making it the driest July on
record in 33 years. "This drought really began in September of 1998," Mr. Daly related.
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Parking Issue Delays Plans for Elm Café; Ken Marcotte Close to Sale of Restaurant By KIM KINTER
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader
An issue over parking spaces has delayed plans for a café on the Elm Street site of the former Elm Delicatessen and Back Room Antiques.
The café developer, Joseph Mortarulo, and his architect, D.J. McCutcheon, Jr. of Secaucus met with Westfield Zoning Officer Jeremiah P. O'Neil and the Planning Board's Site Plan and Subdivision Committee informally on July 19 to discuss parking issues.
Mr. McCutcheon told The Westfield Leader, however, that the parking issues delaying the project were not resolved during the meeting and the group probably will not be able to be heard by the Westfield Planning Board until the fall. The group's proposal was scheduled to be heard during the Planning Board meeting August 2, but, due to a length subdivision application, there was no time to address the café application.
Mr. McCutcheon said that the former Elm Delicatessen is being classified by the town as a retail space, which requires fewer parking spaces than a restaurant does. Because of the classification, the proposed café has to provide more spaces than it would have if the delicatessen, which did have some tables and full-service kitchen, were viewed as a restaurant.
The entire building at 37 and 39 Elm Street is being required to provide 57 parking spaces, 14 of which the café is required to provide or account for.
Meanwhile, Mr. Mortarulo has been paying rent to the owner of the building, Joe Goldman of Cranford, without the benefit of any income from the restaurant, Mr. McCutcheon pointed out.
Plans for the café have been approved by the town's Architectural Review Board, but the Planning Board must consider the application because of an ordinance that requires new restaurants and other downtown businesses to account for where employees and patrons will park.
Mr. McCutcheon said that plans call for removing the wall between the two former Elm Street businesses to make room for a café-style eatery that will serve Continental cuisine.
Mr. Mortarulo said the café will be open weekends for breakfast and every day for lunch and dinner. Several times a week, the restaurant may feature the cooking of a New York chef.
The Fenwick Group LLC of Princeton, which has an application before the Planning Board to open a Panera Bread Co. franchise in the former Auster's appliance store at 143 East Broad Street, also faces having to account for 64 parking spaces.
The franchise will sell fresh baked bread and other bakery items and will also sell sandwiches, salads and soups for take-out or to eat on the premises.
The Fenwick Group LLC has the development and management rights to open 40 such franchises in northern and central New Jersey. The first
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Cheri Rogowsky for The Westfield Leader
DO YOU REMEMBER THIS ONE?...Who's Johnny performs as the opening act for Shirley Alston Reeves, the original lead singer of The Shirelles, during the July 21 "Oldies Night" concert at Echo Lake Park. The concert was part of the Summer Arts Festival sponsored in part by the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders. The next concert will be Wednesday, August 11, with "An Evening of Motown" featuring the Sensational Soul Cruisers. The concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. For more Arts and Entertainment, please see Pages 15 and 16.
Planning Bd. Approves Rahway Ave. Subdivision for Eight Lots; Final Building, Tree Plans to Be Submitted at Sept. Meeting By DEBORAH MADISON
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader
Following lengthy testimony that lasted over two meetings, the Westfield Planning Board Monday night voted 8 to 0 to approve a proposed major subdivision off of Rahway Avenue near Willow Grove Road.
George M. Harbt, who resides at 931 Rahway Avenue, adjacent to the proposed site, was given the go-ahead to proceed with his plans to subdivide two parcels into eight lots and to construct a 40-foot-wide dead end street and cul-de-sac.
Six of the lots will be developed, while Mr. Harbt's existing house will remain on one of these lots and a 3,183-square-foot parcel of land adjacent to 915 Rahway Avenue will remain vacant.
John DuPont, a professional engineer with EKA Associates in Scotch Plains, testifying for the applicant, presented the subdivision's schematics to the board, detailing the existing structures that will be removed and the improvements to be made to the site.
Two wood frame garages will be removed, along with most of the site's
trees, according to Mr. DuPont. Drainage swells will be constructed at three locations in order to lessen the possibility of runoff water draining onto neighboring properties.
Several residents whose properties are adjacent to the proposed site attended the meeting to voice their concerns regarding the removal of 95 percent of the site's trees, as well as concerns regarding the 10 percent slope of the site which they felt could create potential drainage problems.
Mr. DuPont explained that it was necessary to construct the site on a 10 percent gradated slope in order to insure proper drainage, and that there was little likelihood of run-off drainage accumulating on neighboring properties.
Carmen DiMaria, who resides at 915 Rahway Avenue, stated that he
wasn't against approval of the project, but wanted to insure that the applicant and the board were sensitive to the neighbors' rights.
He stated that the neighbors were accustomed to a certain degree of privacy afforded by the numerous trees, and he hoped the board would make conditions of the approval respectful of those needs.
George Gross, who resides at 900 Tice Place, presented photographs to the board showing a drainage ditch with rocks and drainage pipes, which he found necessary to install in his backyard to direct runoff from the proposed site away from his property.
Mr. Gross expressed his concern that runoff would be increased due to
construction on an enhanced fourfoot slope, which would eliminate the existing undulations that are present in the relatively flat lots.
Mr. DuPont's contention was that a natural drainage swell, coupled with the site's grass and trees, would be sufficient to catch runoff, while Mr. Gross argued that greater technical measures were needed.
Mr. Gross also pointed out to the board that due to the last Glacier Ice Age, numerous large boulders were deposited in this area, which could present drainage problems once excavation of the site was underway.
Board Chairman Martin Robins said that boulders were speculative, but that Town Engineer Kenneth B. Marsh would be apprised of that infor
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William A. Burke for The Westfield Leader
READY FOR A GRAND OPENING?…The Fenwick Group LLC of Princeton has an application before the Planning Board to open a Panera Bread Company franchise in the former Auster's appliance store at 143 East Broad Street. However, Fenwick Group faces having to account for 64 parking spaces. If approved the franchise will sell fresh baked bread and other bakery items and will also sell sandwiches, salads and soups for take out or to eat on the premises.
William A. Burke for The Westfield Leader
ON THIRSTY GROUND…A lawn in Westfield is parched and thirsty for a heavy sprinkling of water. Governor Christine Todd Whitman declared a statewide drought warning on Monday due to the continued lack of rainfall and high temperatures that have resulted in record low streamflows and below normal groundwater and reservoir levels.
Council to Vote Tuesday on Proposal For Referendum for Three-Yr. Terms
By PAUL J. PEYTON
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader
In what is likely to be a party-line vote at the Tuesday, August 10 Town Council meeting, governing body members will decide on a resolution to put a non-binding referendum before voters to change Mayoral and Council terms from two to three years.
Westfield's current form of government was enacted through a Special Charter law established in 1967 by the State Legislature. In order to change any provision of the current Mayor-Town Council setup, the town must petition the Legislature to amend Westfield's Charter.
The first action occurred in 1960, when voters elected members to a Special Charter Study Commission. Their report was issued in June of 1961, requesting a change in government. That act, known as the Faulkner Act Plan F, was defeated by a 3-2 voter percentage.
In 1966, the Council framed out special charter provisions for the current form of government. An ordinance was adopted in December of that year whereby the Council petitioned the Legislature for Special Charter Legislation. State officials passed the legislation, which is known as Chapter 195 of the Laws of 1967. Voters subsequently approved a ref
erendum that November. The proposed resolution for threeyear terms, which was initiated by Mayor Thomas C. Jardim, must be acted upon next week in order for a referendum to be placed on this November's election ballot.
Democrats on the Council had originally proposed a change from two-year to four-year terms, including the office of Mayor.
Republican Third Ward Councilman Neil F. Sullivan, Jr. said he believes the proposal is "more about politics than policy."
Mayor Jardim said his proposal was in response to a letter from Westfield Town Republican Committee Chairman Robert Cockren, published in The Westfield Leader,
which was critical of four-year terms due to the fact that elections would be held during even-numbered years.
In his letter, Mr. Cockren indicated that these are years when "national and state Democratic Party and soft money contributions are at the highest, thus improving" the Democrats' chances of "taking control of Westfield's government."
Mayor Jardim noted that the threeyear approach would result in elections being held in both odd and even numbered years.
First Ward Councilman Carl A. Salisbury, a Democrat, said the proposal would have the Mayor and four of the eight Council members elected the first year of each three-year cycle; four council members in the second year, and no local municipal election in the third year.
"So in essence, you (council members) really get a year and 11 months off from campaigning (through the three-year setup)," he explained.
Republican Second Ward Councilman Matthew P. Albano requested that a decision on the three-year terms be delayed until the full council has
had more time to discuss the proposal. Three council members were not present Tuesday night.
"It's definitely an issue that warrants discussion," he said.
Town Attorney William S. Jeremiah, 2nd said the Council must pass a resolution calling for the referendum within 74 days of the Tuesday, November 2, General Election in order to make this year's ballot.
"You have to do it this meeting or you don't do it this year," Town Administrator Edward A. Gottko advised the council, noting that the office of Union County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi has set Friday, August 20 as the last date to file non-binding referendums for November.
Councilman Salisbury said he is not a strong supporter of referendums, noting that the council is a representative body that "ought to be doing our jobs as representatives in making these decisions." He said, though, that he would support a referendum if that's what it would take to gain Council approval for moving ahead with a change in term lengths.
"To me, it's a no brainer," he said. Councilman Sullivan questioned Democrats by asking, "what's wrong with the present system?"
Democratic Fourth Ward Councilman Lawrence A. Goldman said longer terms are needed to give council members more time to "learn the ropes" of town government and the workings of the Council, as well as the complex municipal budget process.
Mr. Sullivan said he supports annual elections in Westfield, adding that campaigns can be kept civil while not lasting the entire year. He said the council has accomplished a good deal of business during the heat of the fall election seasons.
Mayor Jardim, who disagreed with
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Page 8 Thursday, August 5, 1999 The Westfield Leader and THE TIMES of Scotch Plains – Fanwood A WATCHUNG COMMUNICATIONS, INC. PUBLICATION
CYAN YELLOW MAGENTA BLACK
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1
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ARE YOU IGNORING A WARNING SIGN?
"And there is no telling how long a drought is going to last, until it's over."
New Jersey would need to get many days of torrential downpours in order to bring its reservoirs back up to normal levels and to save many of the trees and crops being damaged by this drought, according to meteorologists at the National Weather Service.
"Even a few good downpours will not be sufficient to reverse the damaging effects that this drought is having on our forests and crops," Mr. Daly remarked.
Although thundershowers are expected for Wednesday and Thursday, it may not be enough to reverse the drought's toll on our dwindling water supplies or on our trees.
Ms. Collings said that if weather conditions do not improve, the next step will be the declaration of a water emergency by Labor Day, which would impose mandatory water restrictions disallowing watering of lawns, washing cars or filling pools. Additionally, restaurants would only serve water upon request and professional car washes would be required to use recycled water.
The particular restrictions would be determined by the DEP and the police would be authorized to issue warnings or summons.
Residents are currently being asked to use good water conservation practices, and to refrain from watering lawns and washing cars during this drought-warning period.
Other conservation practices are to run dishwashers and washing machines only when full, water gardens in the evening, and not to use the hose as a broom for cleaning sidewalks and driveways.
In Westfield, the Department of Public Works has been making extra efforts of additional waterings to save the 120 new trees planted this past spring. DPW Superintendent Dan Kelly stated that they could lose half of those new plantings if the drought continues.
"It's a very critical situation for trees that are newly planted, especially near sidewalks, where the water supply to those roots is already compromised," Mr. Kelly explained. "We are even beginning to see the tops of mature trees showing signs of stress from the drought."
Scotch Plains Director of Parks and Recreation Laura Botto has noticed many of their park's shrubs and trees wilting and turning brown.
"We are concentrating our watering efforts on the new plantings, but it may not be enough to save them all," Ms. Botto noted.
"Because the ground is so dry and hard, it's becoming increasingly difficult for our work crews to do underground work," said Mr. Manfra. "As far as five feet down, the ground is hard, dry and dusty."
Like many townships, Fanwood's DPW is making extra rounds to water their township's trees and shrubs.
Mike Vodak, Forester with the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Natural Sciences at Kean University explained that some species of trees are able to tolerate the dry conditions better than other species.
Other factors that affect a tree's survival are its age and root structure, the very young trees and very old trees being the most vulnerable to drought-stress. The type of ground structure also plays a role in determining the stamina of a tree.
"One or two years from now, you will see 'die-back' where the tops of trees that were affected by the drought, die and break off," Mr. Vodak said.
It is difficult to determine which trees or how many will be affected, he added.
"If the drought continues, we may be looking at 20 to 30 percent of our trees experiencing significant dieback. And once a tree begins to dieback, you may not be able to save that tree," Mr. Vodak explained.
With no foreseeable relief in sight, the dry conditions are becoming a
potentially dangerous situation for our state's forests, said Steve Maurer, Assistant Chief of the New Jersey Forest Fire Service.
"The slopes are turning yellow and brown, which is something you usually don't see until the fall," Mr. Maurer observed. "Our crews are on heightened alert and all of our fire detection towers are operational, which is also unusual for this time of year," he noted. "One slight mistake, such as a cigarette butt or an ignition spark, could set off a blaze," he added.
The DEP issued campfire restrictions on July 21st that prohibit campfires on the ground. For the area north of the Raritan River, only elevated grills may be used with gas, propane or electricity. In the central and northern parts of the state, where conditions are not as dry, campers may still use wood and charcoal in elevated grills at this time, according to the Governor's Office.
Area residents are also seeing the effects of the hot and dry weather on their lawns and gardens. Terrill Road, Scotch Plains, resident Bernadette Lopez reported that many of her trees and plants are losing leaves.
"Our apple tree has no fruit this year, and the leaves are drooping," she said.
Mrs. Lopez also reported that many of her flowering plants have lost their petals or haven't bloomed at all due to the severe conditions.
Martine Avenue resident and gardener, Elizabeth Murad, has noticed the leaves of her tulip tree turning yellow, which is not typical for this time of year.
"My vegetable garden is surviving well, with just the usual amount of watering, but many plants and trees are turning brown," Mrs. Murad reported.
Most local gardeners have found that by watering more often, they have been able to save their vegetable gardens.
New Jersey farms are sufficiently irrigated to save most of the state's produce, according to Mike Garguilo, owner of Frank Garguilo and Son Produce in Mountainside.
"Most of our produce comes from the South Jersey/Vineland area, where farms are sufficiently irrigated," Mr. Garguilo said. "The peach crop and the corn will be affected by the drought because they are difficult to keep irrigated. In a few weeks, you will see smaller peaches and less corn on the local stands."
As temperatures topped triple digits over the past weekend, area hospitals reported a substantial increase in the number of heat stroke and heat exhaustion patients coming into the emergency room, Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center spokesperson Brad Millaway said.
"We expect those numbers to drop as the temperatures do, later this week," Mr. Millaway commented.
When asked for the cause of these unusual weather patterns, Professor Daly remarked that many theories abound. A global-warming trend due to increased air pollution has been blamed as the cause for southerntype weather conditions moving north, by some meteorologists.
"But," Professor Daly said, "you cannot prove or disprove what amount air pollution is playing in this overall global warming trend."
No matter the cause, most meteorologists agree that southern-type weather conditions are moving northward, and we may see this affect our flora in years to come. However, don't go planting those palm trees in your yard just yet. The trend will be so gradual and slow, that this area of the country will only see the weather change by very small increments over many decades, according to the National Weather Service Web site.
The more popular theory is that this hot and dry spell is just a normal part of weather patterns, which New Jersey has hopefully seen the last of for awhile.
Governor Whitman Issues Serious Drought Warning
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such franchise was opened on August 3 in the Essex Green Mall in West Orange.
Jim Nawn, a managing member of the group, said that in the Westfield site, the biggest volume part of the day is expected to be lunch. The restaurant also plans to open early at about 6:30 a.m. with breakfast items and stay open for dinner until about 9 p.m.
Depending on how long plan approvals take with the town, Mr. Nawn hopes to have the new franchise open in Westfield by December.
Meanwhile, at the site of the recently closed Paprika Grille, the doors remain shut.
Ken Marcotte, who operated a restaurant at the site at 115 Elm Street for the last 10 years, closed the restaurant at the end of June. At that time, he said he was involved in negotiations to sell his restaurant.
His wife, Nancy Marcotte, who was a partner and worked with him in his restaurants, said that they are close to closing a deal, adding that the closure had taken longer than she and Mr. Marcotte had expected.
Parking Issues Cause Delay Of Elm Street Café Opening
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second floor lavatories will be renovated from April to July 2000.
Elcom Services Group, which maintains corporate offices in Pennsylvania and local offices in Edison, will be in
charge of computer cabling and integration for 171 workstations from November to December 1999. The project was estimated to cost $98,300, but actually carries a price tag of $70,391.
Bond Projects Under Way At Wilson Elementary School
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WESTFIELD FIRE BLOTTER MONDAY, JULY 26 • Five hundred block of Trinity Place mulch fire.
• Three hundred block of First Street electrical short.
TUESDAY, JULY 27 • Seven hundred block of Fairacres Avenue spill on roadway.
• Twelve hundred block of Boulevard good intent call.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 28 • East Broad Street and Euclid Avenue assist police.
• Four hundred block of East Broad Street smoke scare.
• Five hundred block of South Chestnut Street lockout.
• One hundred block of Central Avenue mulch fire.
• Two hundred block of Wyoming Street service call.
• One hundred block of Tamaques Way unintentional alarm.
THURSDAY, JULY 29 • Two hundred block of Terminal Avenue system malfunction.
• Two hundred block of Sinclair Place power line down.
• Two hundred block of Elm Street assist police.
FRIDAY, JULY 30 • Four hundred block of North Av
enue West unintentional alarm.
• One hundred block of Mohawk Trail smoke and odor removal.
• One hundred block of Barchester Way electrical short.
• Six hundred block of Girard Avenue wire down.
• Nine hundred block of Cherokee Court wire down.
• Two hundred block of Lynn Lane smoke scare.
• Three hundred block of Tuttle Parkway smoke scare.
SATURDAY, JULY 31 • Two hundred block of South Avenue brush fire.
• Six hundred block of Westfield Avenue lock out.
• One hundred block of Elm Street electrical short.
• Eight hundred block of Knollwood Terrace smoke scare.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 1 • Seven hundred block of Standish Avenue power line down.
• Three hundred block of South Avenue mulch fire.
• Nine hundred block of New England Drive system malfunction.
• Two hundred block of Clark Street system malfunction.
Council to Vote on Referendum For Three-Year Term Lengths
mation and every effort would be made to address those problems, should they be unearthed.
Michael Snizek, Co-Chairman of the town's Tree Preservation Commission, addressed the board regarding the numerous trees which would be felled on the site.
Mr. Snizek explained the Commission's dissatisfaction with the wording of the town's tree preservation ordinance, which allows so many trees to be removed, as long as they are replaced.
The Commission's recommendations to the board were that a 10-foot tree buffer around the border of the proposed site be replanted, as well as the addition of numerous sidewalktrees around the cul-de-sac's perimeter.
When Mayor Thomas C. Jardim asked the applicant's lawyer, Charles H. Brandt, why so many of the border trees would be destroyed, only to be replaced later, Mr. Brandt stated that many of those trees were in poor condition or already dead, and that every effort would be made to preserve trees that were in good condition.
Mr. Brandt also explained that many trees needed to be removed since regrading was necessary, which most trees would not survive.
Mayor Jardim requested, as a condition of approval, that any tree in good condition which is located in the 10-foot buffer zone be preserved, since these would not be affected by re-grading.
Jane Gross, Mr. Gross's wife, asked the board if neighbors could expect that these lots would always be maintained in accordance with the conditions stipulated by the board, even after they were sold to other developers.
Mr. Robins explained that the Planning Board would retain control over certain aspects of the site that were covered by the tree preservation ordinance, such as retaining the 10-foot tree buffer zone, but that new owners would acquire the right to control their properties, as do all other property owners.
Mr. Brandt pointed out that most property owners prefer the greatest amount of tree coverage possible; however, new owners feasibly could choose to fell as many trees on their property as they wanted to, even though it was unlikely that they would.
Neighbor Jeff Bash, who resides at 11 Amy Drive, asked the applicant what the time frame would be on development and construction of the sites.
Mayor Jardim also wanted some assurance from the applicant that development and construction would not be dragged out over an inordinately long period of time, disrupting the peace and quiet of the neighborhood.
Mr. Harbt explained to the board that he was not a builder, but was only developing the site to be sold to builders or prospective homeowners, and he therefore had no control over how long construction would take on the various sites.
As a condition of its approval, the board stipulated that the subdivision and development phases, which were being proposed by Mr. Harbt, be no longer than 18 months, secured by a performance bond in the amount of 120 percent of the total cost of development.
Mr. Harbt stated that he had no control over how long various utilities might take to complete their work, but that he would consult Mr. Marsh to come up with a reasonable time frame.
Other issues regarding this site addressed by the board were concerns
over traffic flow, as well as landscaping responsibilities. As a condition of approval, Mayor Jardim requested that the landscaping responsibilities for the leftover parcel of land, adjacent to 915 Rahway Avenue, be clarified in the plan.
The applicant will also be required to pay 50 percent of the cost of reasonable traffic flow calming measures at the intersection of Rahway Avenue and Max Place.
With the applicant agreeing to all of the conditions set forth by the board, the application for the subdivision was unanimously approved. Board member Mary Withers, although present at this meeting, did not vote due to her absence at the previous Planning Board meeting when testimony began.
Other Planning Board issues included a request by applicant Gary M. Kramer to waive the tree preservation plan on the subdivision of a lot adjacent to his residence at 1260 Prospect Street, until such a time as the building and subdivision plans have been heard.
Mr. Kramer's position was that it was more practical to submit a tree preservation plan after the approval of the building and subdivision plans.
The waiver was approved with the condition that the tree preservation plan will be submitted along with the finalized building plans and the recommendations of the Tree Preservation Commission, to be presented to the board at its next regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, September 13.
Frances Linn, who resides at 1621 Rising Way, adjacent to the proposed subdivision, voiced her concerns that one of the lots comprised protected wetlands and that the tree preservation plan should not be waived.
Mr. Robins assured residents that the tree preservation plan was not being altogether waived, but only postponed until the subdivision plans were to be considered for approval, and that all issues concerning wetlands and tree preservation would be heard at that time.
Board member Anthony LaPorta reported that he would be forming a subcommittee to research amending the existing ordinances, which govern percentage of land usage allowable for building additions, in order to incorporate porch preservation.
Currently, homeowners who wish to build an addition onto their homes are restricted by the ordinance, which stipulates that total building to land ratios must not exceed 20 percent — necessitating the elimination of the porch or enclosing the porch in order to abide by this restriction.
To eliminate the frequency of porch destruction and help maintain the character of older neighborhoods, Mr. LaPorta's committee will look into other options that will permit the retention of the porch, while allowing greater leeway in accommodating homeowners who wish to build additions onto their homes.
The board postponed several appeals until its September 13 meeting, including a review of DJM Associates site plan to convert the former Elm Deli at 35-39 Elm Street into a bistro and caféstyle eatery; the subdivision of an Embree Crescent lot by applicant and builder Michael Mahoney; the Fenwick Group application to convert retail space into a Panera Bread Company franchise at 143 East Broad Street, and Santo Tartivita's bid to convert a first floor apartment in a two-family house into office space at 545 Westfield Avenue.
Planning Board Approves Rahway Ave. Subdivision
that assertion, said he felt there was "a desire to do nothing" on the part of some council members last year and that some items were accomplished more "by chance."
Councilman Sullivan said he would rather like to see a review of the entire Town Charter by a special Charter Review Commission. He accused the Mayor of trying to move quickly on the three-year term proposal without taking a look at how the present system came together over seven years of discussions in the 1960s.
Councilman Goldman said the governing body has been discussing the issue for over a year.
Councilman Sullivan noted that he had raised the issue of whether a non-partisan system, whereby candidates would not run under major party lines on the election ballot, and moving elections to May, would work in Westfield.
"I want to move this next week and if the majority wants to vote no, so be it, and the Council won't take up this issue again this year," Mr. Goldman stated.
Mr. Sullivan said the council could request action by the Legislature to enable the town to hold a binding rather than a non-binding referendum on the issue. Currently, state law does not require a binding referendum vote.
Mr. Sullivan noted that prior to the setup of the Town Charter in 1967, the town was governed under the Town Act of 1895. Under that system, consisting of a commission setup, individual Council members
were involved in administration and the daily operations of running the departments.
Mr. Goldman said he is not in opposition to any portion of the Town Charter other than the length of Mayoral and Council terms.
In other business, the Mayor asked Mr. Goldman, as Chairman of the Laws and Rules Committee, to have his committee review the proposed charter of the Westfield TV (WTV) Advisory Board for a revamped community television access channel, currently known as TV-36. As part of the charter, a nine-member WTV Board of Directors would be established.
WTV, according to the proposed charter, would be an "independent, non-profit organization fully authorized to conduct business and to enter into contracts."
Mr. Gottko said an advisory board cannot enter into contracts. He also said WTV's budget should be done similar to other town departments, whereby a budget is presented for Council review.
The Town Administrator said Westfield has received a one-time payment of $50,000 from Comcast as part of the town's 15-year cable television franchise contract for capital equipment upgrades for TV-36. In addition, the town receives annual franchise fees.
The council appropriated $12,500 this year to hire a person for programming and/or other aspects involved in the operation of the station.
WTV would be funded, in part, through franchise fees received by the town from Comcast.
The Town Administrator said community cable stations are generally run by an employee on the town payroll who specifically works for the TV advisory board.
"We have a starting point now and that document (the proposed WTV Charter) raises more questions than answers" on the operation of a revamped community access channel, said Mr. Gottko.
Mayor Jardim, who established the advisory board in April, said the committee will continue to meet on other aspects of the station including programming for such shows as "Westfield Live" with Mitch Slater and the eventual airing of Town Council meetings.
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