RIDGEWOOD, N.J.– The Ridgewood Planning Board on Tuesday night approved an expansion of The Valley Hospital by a 6-3 vote following two days of public hearings that included comments from several youngsters -- some of them wearing surgical masks.
"This is a detriment [that] in no way outweighs the benefits," said Councilwoman Susan Knudsen, who voted against the plan."It's too big."
"I hate this issue..." said Mayor Paul Aronsohn, who voted in favor of the expansion. "We can like Valley and not like the plan... It's a shame that people can't trust the process...We need to make the best of a bad situation."
A dozen children wearing surgical masks sat in the front row as most of Tuesday night's more than two dozen speakers – including several school-aged children – echoed the same quality-of-life concerns as the 30 or so who spoke Monday. Altogether, the hearings lasted five hours over the two days.
“Some people have problems like asthma or allergies. If [the construction] happens, it will put people in danger," said Vivian McWilliams, 7.
"Exposure to environmental stresses [can] lead to diabetes and diseases," said Laurel Kennedy, 12, herself a diabetic. “It may not affect us now, but it could affect us later in life.”
Valley, located at the corner of Linwood and Van Dien avenues, wants to replace its Phillips Building and eliminating the fifth floor of the North Building.
At the same time, officials intend to double Valley's size to 961,000 square feet.
The hospital previously tried to expand in 2014 as part of a Master Plan amendment, but the Planning Board shot it down. Valley subsequently sued the board and village council.
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