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Hawthorne sets a new era of smaller-scale business development along two thoroughfares


Hawthorne sets a new era of smaller-scale business development along two thoroughfares

MAY 7, 2014, 8:17 PM    LAST UPDATED: WEDNESDAY, MAY 7, 2014, 8:24 PM

HAWTHORNE — The door was already shut on Wal-Mart coming to town, but borough officials — at the urging of opponents of the planned supermarket — locked it for good measure on Wednesday night.

Wal-Mart announced in March 2013 it would scrap plans to bring a supermarket to Wagaraw Road after its application was met with fierce resistance from some residents, who argued the supermarket undercut community aspirations for a better development suitor.

On Wednesday night, the council — which had argued Walmart would bring in much-needed tax ratables — unanimously adopted a zoning ordinance that forecloses the possibility of any big-box developments returning to a stretch of Wagaraw Road, including the 8.6-acre lot where Wal-Mart planned to locate.

The vote follows a series of public hearings on the ordinance that borough officials and Walmart opponents alike said were productive.

“This new ordinance was negotiated with extensive public input and without a pending project to shape it,” said Joe Osborne, president of Hawthorne Deserves Better, the non-profit that led the charge against Wal-Mart. “That’s how it should be. We’re very pleased.”

Mayor Richard Goldberg said, “I don’t know anybody who’s not happy with what we’re doing.”

“All in all, it should be a win-win for all the residents in the borough,” he said.

The ordinance is aimed at making it “a little easier for businesses to open up,” Goldberg said, by establishing two new business districts on parts of Goffle and Wagaraw roads. Officials hope the districts will attract bakeries, electronics stores, grocery stores, restaurants, offices, health clubs and other businesses.

The new ordinance is expected to end the lawsuit against the borough, the developer and the Planning Board brought by Hawthorne Deserves Better, which had claimed previous zoning ordinances, dating to 2000, had been adopted without public notice, and that a 2011 ordinance was adopted to benefit the Wal-Mart project.

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