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West Caldwell Fine Tunes Business Zoning Ordinance

Revised ordinance allows for shopping cart corrals; Dodd Road residents petition for parking limits.

After a two year process that involved taking suggestions from businesses and residents, West Caldwell updated its business zoning ordinance at Tuesday night's council meeting. 

The new ordinance will now allow for shopping cart corrals, something that  had initially requested in 2008 when  on the West Caldwell store began.

Mayor Joseph Tempesta noted the original zoning mandates date back from 30 to 50 years ago, when shopping center corrals were not even invented.

"We needed to look at the master plan and make some fine tuning," he said.

The zoning ordinance covers such areas as building height, signage and parking availability. 

The ordinance, which comprises the central business and shopping areas of West Caldwell, encompasses the area along Bloomfield Avenue from Lane Avenue toward the town's border with Fairfield on the west, Kirkpatrick Lane and Passaic Avenue on the south, and Passaic Avenue and Clinton Road on the north.

Putting to Rest Rumors About the Ordinance

Before a public hearing was held on the ordinance, Tempesta quelled some rumors about the zoning revisions. The first rumor involved making a cut through from the town compost center to Essex Place. 

"This is simply not true," he said.

The second rumor involved the height of buildings. While Tempesta did say some buildings may have atriums above 2 1/2 stories, the town's zoning prohibits any buildings above this height for the purpose of occupancy.

"There is already enough traffic on Bloomfield and Passaic Avenues. We are not interested in adding more, but preserving the character of West Caldwell," Tempesta said.

Residents Express Concerns 

Donald and Elena McGuinness of Dodd Road came before the council Tuesday to request that local businesses be required to provide employee parking, instead of using surrounding streets.

"It is unfair to the people who live there and affects our quality of life," Donald McGuinness said.

Elena McGuinness submitted a petition to the council requesting parking be limited only to Dodd Road residents. In addition to congestion, she said there has been an increase in litter and a concern for personal safety with so many strangers parking on the street all day long.

Tempesta said he sympathized with the residents, but did not know if legally the town could restrict parking since it is a public road. The council will look at requiring businesses to provide employee parking.

As for the shopping corrals, Arlene Kochman, whose home is adjacent to , was concerned about the corrals being placed only 40 feet from the border of the property.

Municipal Planner Bill Hamilton said every effort would be made to place corrals in the front of the parking lot.

Councilman Richard Otterbein, who has served on both the Planning and Zoning Board noted the ordinance is a "work in progress." Businesses can apply for a variance.

"However, the majority of amendments are solid," Otterbein said.

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