RIDGEWOOD, N.J. – Hundreds of angry residents turned out Wednesday night to tell the Ridgewood Village Council to vote no on a proposed master plan amendment that would allow the development of four multi-family apartments around the Central Business District.
Carrying signs ranging from imploring to accusatory, Ridgewood residents stood in line to make sure their opinions were heard.
Council members sat stone-faced as Lynn Dewhurst-Mcburney, the first speaker, questioned them on their efforts to employ individual studies that the high-density buildings would have on the village. The crowd cheered and held up signs following her speech, during which she expressed shock that the matter was not being brought to a public vote. Dewhurst-Mcburney recently moved from San Francisco and said she “deliberately chose Ridgewood for its suburban features."
Former Council Member Bernadette Walsh spoke against the proposal and said both Mayor Paul Aronsohn and Deputy Mayor Albert Pucciarelli should recuse themselves. The mayor, Walsh said, accepted two campaign contributions from Garden Homes while Pucciarelli's law firm had a "fiduciary responsibility" to the developer.
Dana Glazer, who has been active organizing residents to challenge the amendment of the master plan, told the board he had hoped for a dialogue and was disappointed the public hearing wasn't moved to the high school, where everyone who wanted to be heard could sit in one room.
"I'm frustrated by the process," he told the council.
Several residents told the council that members didn't do enough research and should not vote Wednesday night. They also asked that the matter be brought to a referendum where village residents could vote.
"I think it's obvious here that there's a lot more homework that needs to be done," Ridgewood resident Mandy Roth told the council.
Aronsohn promised that everyone who wanted to be heard on the issue would have an opportunity to speak at the meeting before the board votes. Speakers, however, were being limited to five minutes.
If approved, it would increase the number of allowable housing units per acre in each zone from 12 to 35. Building heights in some areas of the district could be 50 feet, as well.
The vote originally was scheduled for last week, but residents noted that many parents were attending back-to-school events.
Check back with Daily Voice on updates from the meeting.
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