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Reader says Village agenda was dominated by developers to one dominated by anti-development special interests


the Village agenda is now the CRR, Friends of Schedler and CBR agenda. It’s great you turned out the votes for a grassroots victory, but Ridgewood is much bigger than just your special interests. I fear we’ve gone from a Village agenda dominated by developers to one dominated by anti-development special interests. There has to be some middle ground or property value increases will continue to lag those seen in other surrounding municipalities like Glen Rock and Tenafly. We cannot just be complacent about all of the eyesores across the Village, we need renewal.

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April 21, 2016

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood, NJ – Citizens for a Better Ridgewood (CBR) is pleased to announce that we will be endorsing Jeff Voigt, Bernadette Coughlan-Walsh and Ramon Hache for VillageCouncil in the May 10th municipal election.

CBR is committed to ensuring that Ridgewood engages in inclusive and comprehensive
planning that will promote reasonable and appropriate growth and progress, while preserving the character, size and scale of our Village for generations to come. “We believe Jeff, Bernadette and Ramon will make decisions that protect and improve the quality of life of Ridgewood residents, as the next Village Council addresses opportunities and challenges that will impact us all,” said Trustee Amy Bourque.
CBR met with all six candidates and chose to endorse Voigt, Walsh and Hache because they support CBR’s goal of comprehensive planning for the future of Ridgewood. These three candidates are dedicated to community engagement that allows residents a voice in their future, and will exercise independent judgment always in the best interest of Village residents. Lori Weil noted, “we feel these three candidates will work hard to thoughtfully address the many issues facing Ridgewood, and trust they are best prepared to move toward the future while still maintaining the charm and character of our Village.”
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High Density Housing that is TOO BIG, TOO DENSE, TOO OUT OF SCALE and TOO OUT OF CHARACTER for Ridgewood

clock ridgewood NJ

This is a letter from fellow resident, Dave Slomin on behalf of Citizens For A Better Ridgewood. Please share with everyone you know and, more importantly, please come out to the Village Council meeting on the night of March 23rd at Ridgewood High School. Ridgewood needs you!

Dear Neighbors,

This Wednesday night, 3/23, our Village Council, is set to vote on High Density Housing that is TOO BIG, TOO DENSE, TOO OUT OF SCALE and TOO OUT OF CHARACTER with the Village we love. Check out this video by Dana H. Glazer to see what the “new density” looks like:

All politicking, threats of lawsuits, and municipal studies and impacts aside… this comes down to a matter of “Vision” for Ridgewood. And right now, there is a huge disconnect between the vision for Ridgewood’s future held by the current powerholders in our Village Council and Planning Board, and that of a large majority of Residents. These powerholders see downtown Ridgewood as bigger scale, taller, denser, and much more bustling. They are planning a town center with a more urban look and feel, not a small town character. I don’t really know what is influencing them, as virtually every Resident CBR has spoken with – 1,000s of them over the past 4 years – wants Ridgewood to maintain its small town feel. Residents want to give their children and grandchildren the same wonderful town we enjoy. When we want more city, we know that Manhattan is a short drive away. Why doesn’t our Council majority feel the same?

Citizens for a Better Ridgewood (CBR) is for fitting and positive development. We are only naysayers to bad representation and bad planning. CBR believes that we can promote fitting development in Ridgewood by lowering the density of the current ordinances from 35 to 25 units per acre, which is already a 100% increase over current zoning, yet has solid precedent in our Village. Additionally, our planners must also limit Floor Area Ratio (e.g. building size), and enforce proper street setbacks and parking to make new buildings work. We feel it is our Council and Planning Board’s job to increase the quality of life value of our entire town, not just the property values of some developers.

Wednesday night is our last chance to try and stop this. Oddly, all three Council Members who support this over-scaled development are not running again. Why? We can only guess. But what we do know, is that in approving such unprecedented development as a Council Majority, but a Ridgewood Minority, they leave the mess to the next Council and to every Resident of this town… and to our children. Again, bad and unfair planning.

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Ultimately CBR was holding our council responsible and paying a fortune out of pocket for what our elected officials should do as standard operating procedure


Clearly you are not aware of the backstory. If you were, I am sure you would understand that CBR had to pay a lawyer for almost 3 years to attend every meeting for every hour to represent their and ultimately our interests as residents. I am sure you understand how much lawyers charge per hour and the amount they bill when they are doing research aside from meetings. I am sure you realize they did fundraise but ultimately there is a big gap that they filled personally for years. How much did you contribute?

Ultimately CBR was holding our council responsible and paying a fortune out of pocket for what our elected officials should do as standard operating procedure. We are at the point now with the clock running out on this council. Hopefully residents are now paying attention and will be putting pressure on so the right studies are done and responsible decisions are made.

I assure you there is nothing beyond that. No promises of anything else.

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Ridgewood grassroots group withdraws lawsuit against Planning Board


OCTOBER 26, 2015    LAST UPDATED: MONDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2015, 10:25 AM

A lawsuit filed by a grassroots citizen organization in response to master plan amendments passed by the village’s Planning Board has been withdrawn.

At the Oct. 14 Village Council meeting, a letter was read by a member of the public on behalf of Citizens for a Better Ridgewood (CBR) stating the lawsuit would be voluntarily pulled.

Planning Board Attorney Gail Price confirmed last Monday she had received an Order of Dismissal with Prejudice that had been filed by CBR counsel.

The complaint stemmed from a June 2 decision by the Planning Board to approve the creation of new residential and mixed-use zones in Ridgewood’s Central Business District (CBD) with a housing density of up to 35 units per acre. The lawsuit was filed in August, but as of mid-September, neither the Village of Ridgewood nor the Planning Board, both of which were named defendants in the litigation, had been officially served.

Matt Gertler, a Glenwood Road resident, came to the podium during the first round of public comment on Oct. 14 to outline the reasons the organization has decided to withdraw the lawsuit.

Gertler said CBR is “cautiously optimistic” that the Village Council has heard their voices and is now acting in the best interest of the town. Gertler noted the “unprecedented” number of citizens who filled the fourth floor court room as well as the first-floor overflow rooms in Village Hall and the sheer number of residents who spoke out against the changes.

“To the surprise and delight of the masses, rather than vote to approve the ordinances, the council resolved to commission an independent comprehensive study to understand the impact of the proposed developments on traffic, financials, infrastructure, schools and more,” Gertler said. “We commend the council on this course of action.”

Gertler said the lawsuit had been withdrawn with the expectation that residents will have a “voice at the table” after the various financial and personal sacrifices that have been made by residents.

Gertler said CBR had incurred more than $100,000 in costs related to the public hearings, along with evenings spent at lengthy meetings instead of with family.

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Readers debate Citizens for a better Ridgewood (CBR) dropping Law Suit

Lawsuits cost big money, the Village Council is now going to do the appropriate studies. What would be the purpose of continuing to sue, have a judge order them to do studies? Regarding “trust”, I don’t believe it either. However, sometimes you have to give the other side some room if you hope at least one of them will vote your way in the future. Remember the changed vote on Valley.

This post leaves out the crucial fact that $100k has been spent by private citizens to fight against themselves [village runs on taxpayer dollars, we pay twice!] There is no way CBR can fight the spending power of debt funded developers. Remember, one of the developers has been fined MILLIONS of dollars for their inability to follow the law and still they spend more. How can we fight that?

Well if you believe that then answer this( 9:26). The CBR have a lot of smart people in their group you mean to tell me that no one anticipated the cost of their law suit? Why did they file it ( If they did ) so early? Why didn’t they wait till the council voted and then decide if a lawsuit was to costly. They fold like a cheap suit and the 3 amigos know it . Something stinks here.

While I don’t trust our Council majority to do the right thing here, they are kind of painted into a corner. The only way out for them at this point is to try to literally “pull a fast one” and wrap these supposedly comprehensive studies up in a couple weeks so that they can all vote yes before they get voted out in May.

It’s probably ok to drop the suit for now, but keep a copy handy in case we need to change the date and re-file.

I would not trust Aronsohn, Hauck, and Pucciarelli to do anything other than what would benefit them politically They are the most self-servicing bunch on the Council in a very long time..

I understand CBR. I wonder if your going to have enough money to fight the BOED when they redistrict after all isn’t this what it all about. You want to keep Ridge and Williard for your kids.

Whoever just discussed redistributing should read up on the topic. In 2012 fishbein said ridge, Somerville and Hawes are full. travel, Willard and orchard would lose the most. Ridge is already BY FAR the most diverse school in town. That isn’t even a question

One reason folks at ridge have been on this issue is because most of the current apartments are zoned for ridge We know how many children WILL move into the apartments and what the impacts of so many units will have on congestion in an already congested part of town. Ever drive west ridgewood avenue at 3?

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Citizens for a Better Ridgewood (CBR) Calls for Residents to Attend Village Councils Public Hearing on September 16th ,730pm

village council meeting

file photo by Boyd Loving

PLEASE mark your calendar for the MOST IMPORTANT meeting to date:

Wednesday, September 16 at 7:30 pm – VILLAGE COUNCIL PUBLIC HEARING before ordinances are approved allowing multi-family housing in downtown Ridgewood at 35-units per acre

Please take time to read this important message from CBR Trustees:

For over two years, Citizens for a Better Ridgewood (CBR) actively participated in the Ridgewood Planning Board’s review of a Master Plan Amendment that would allow several large, high-density housing projects to be built downtown.  CBR enlisted the help of a professional planner and an expert Land Use attorney to give residents a voice in the process, and to urge caution and advocate for proper planning.  Unfortunately, our voices were not heard.

On June 1st, CBR circulated an online petition advocating for responsible planning and densities lower than the 35-units per acre that was before the Planning Board.  The petition gained more than 1,000 signatures in just a few short hours, demonstrating that many Ridgewood residents oppose the jump from 12 to 35 units per acre.  This petition was decidedly ignored.  Despite our calls for visionary planning and densities more appropriate for Ridgewood, on June 2nd the Planning Board approved four separate amendments to the master plan that pave the way for high-density, multifamily housing projects at 35 units per acre.

On August 10, a group of concerned residents enlisted the service of CBR’s attorney to file a complaint in the Superior Court in Bergen County appealing the Planning Board’s decision.  The Complaint seeks a Judge’s order to reverse the Planning Board’s June 2 decision based on several counts, including spot zoning violations, procedural irregularities during the master plan proceedings, violations to the Open Public Meetings Act, conflicts of interest among Planning Board members, inappropriate admittance of a threatening letter regarding affordable housing that wrongly swayed some votes, and insufficient comprehensive studies and evidence to warrant a substantial change in zoning.

As you return from your summer break, please know that our cause is strong and alive.  Since the June vote, we have a new influx of dedicated and impassioned residents and donors leading the CBR charge.  As such, we feel the time is right to change CBR’s leadership to energize this new chapter in our efforts.  In the next few weeks, the CBR will have a new set of trustees and the current group will be stepping down.  We are fortunate that we have zealous supporters ready to take over and embark on this next stage.  If you would like to volunteer to help, please contact us and you can join them!

WE WILL NEED YOUR SUPPORT on WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 16 AT 7:30 PM when the Village Council holds a public hearing in advance of approving four ordinances that will amend the master plan and allow multi-family housing in downtown Ridgewood at 35-units per acre.  This may be the last chance residents will have to speak out about zoning changes that will negatively impact our Village.  Given the speed with which the Council accepted the Planning Board’s decision without meaningful discussion, we are concerned the Council may try to effect a premature final vote that same night!

We want to thank all of you for your support over these last two years. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

CBR’s new leadership will continue to keep you updated.  Please stay tuned… we need you!

Best Regards,

Amy Bourque, Lori Weil, Carol Bicknese and Jen Ditommasso

NOTE:  To be clear, CBR has always favored development in downtown Ridgewood.  CBR is not against change, but rather favors VISIONARY (not reactionary) planning that considers the impact zoning changes will have on Ridgewood’s severe parking deficit, traffic issues, lack of open space, and overcrowded schools.  CBR continues to advocate for a density limit that is more in line with what currently exists in downtown Ridgewood (approximately 20-24 units per acre.)  CBR is in favor of providing alternative housing choices and meeting affordable housing obligations, but believes these objectives can be achieved at a much lower density than 35 units per acre.

Citizens  for a Better Ridgewood

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CBR change is good, growth is good, but this is too much

Ridgewood NJ , CBR invites you to please open the link below and consider signing this petition. The Planning Board will most likely be voting on this amendment tomorrow night and we want to show them many people are not for this considerable change to our master plan from a density of 12 units per acre (current) to a density of 35 units per acre (almost triple).
Just to give you an idea of what other towns allow: Hackensack 22 units per acre, Teaneck 28 units per acre, Fair Lawn 17 units per acre, etc. Why would we want to have such a high density of 35 units per acre in our Master Plan? If they vote yes, there’s no turning back. Ridgewood will no longer be the charming Village we all love. Yes, change is good, growth is good, but this is too much. It needs to be a more reasonable number. Please sign and forward. Only 1 signature per e-mail address is allowed. Please send to your spouses e-mail address, so they can sign too.

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Reader says The Village Council and the Planning Board need to step up and make decisions that are in the best interest of a vibrant and healthy village.


file photo Boyd Loving

Reader says The Village Council and the Planning Board need to step up and make decisions that are in the best interest of a vibrant and healthy village.
The Citizens For a Better Ridgewood (CBR) website states that the group:

-Favors economic growth for our downtown
-Favors new housing that is appropriate in scale
-Favors new housing designated for empty nesters and special needs residents, where there is an established need
-Favors new parking solutions that support commerce
-Favors more open space and athletic fields for our youth sports

Hotwire US

That all sounds good. But, their public actions suggest different agendas, at least for some of the founders. Specifically, they have opposed ALL new multi-family housing projects in Ridgewood, regardless of “scale”. Clearly, we don’t need all three of the proposed developments in town. But, it is also clear that one or two of the proposed housing projects would benefit economic growth in the CBD and would help advance the parking solution in town. It is also clear that the most desirable projects would be those that are moderate in overall size, with high-end units that cater to young professional couples or empty nesters, who wish to downsize. Such projects would have less impact on our infrastructure and schools than when families with children move into existing homes in Ridgewood as empty nesters leave town each year, when their children graduate from RHS.

So, why doesn’t the CBR come out and publicly endorse one of the proposed projects? Or, if they support a specific project, but would like to see minor modifications, why don’t they tell us which project and what modifications they recommend?

The reason is that they don’t really want ANY new multi-family housing! Why? Two reasons… which the Ridgewood News has been remiss in reporting and the CBR has failed to disclose.

1) Amy Bourque is one of the founders of the CBR and is its most vocal advocate. Her family is the long-standing owner an existing multi-family housing development that would be most adversely impacted by ANY new multi-family housing in Ridgewood. This is a major conflict of interest that she should have disclosed long ago. Her failure to do so openly raises serious questions about her motivations.

2) Several CBR supporters have repeatedly and publicly expressed concern that new multi-family housing will attract more foreign families to Ridgewood, who wish to take advantage of our school system for a few years, potentially with an inappropriate number of family members or more than one family in a single unit. This concern was clearly expressed at a recent public meeting. However, the press inexplicably glossed over the comment.

The debate over multi-family housing projects has gone on for far too long in Ridgewood. We need SOMETHING. The Village Council and the Planning Board need to step up and make decisions that are in the best interest of a vibrant and healthy village. Perhaps a little honesty from those who have been stalling the debate out would help residents understand the CBR’s real motivations and allow the Village to move forward.

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Citizens for a Better Ridgewood (CBR) endorses Knudsen, Sedon


Citizens for a Better Ridgewood (CBR) endorses Knudsen, Sedon

APRIL 4, 2014    LAST UPDATED: FRIDAY, APRIL 4, 2014, 12:31 AM

CBR endorses Knudsen, Sedon

Carol Bicknese

Amy Bourque

Jennifer DiTommaso

Lori Weil

Trustees of Citizens for a Better Ridgewood

Letter to the Editor:

The future development of Ridgewood is an important issue that affects each and every one of us in our community. How we make decisions about our Master Plan and what kind of development we encourage is critical for the future of our village. The election to fill the two open seats on the Village Council on May 13 will be influential in determining which path we, as a community, will take forward. The Citizens for a Better Ridgewood is excited to endorse Susan Knudsen and Michael Sedon.

This election is timely because we have serious issues confronting our Planning Board that could permanently change the character of our village and have an impact on our schools, traffic, parking, pedestrian safety, municipal services, open space, tax burden and property values. We need Village Council members who are well informed about the issues at hand, and who are able to create viable options and assess the needs of our village with an unbiased view.

– See more at: