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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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Reader says Time to take Back the Village of Ridgewood from Special Interests

Abraham Godwin Ridgewood

There has been no better opportunity than now to unite all Village neighborhoods. Citizens for a Better Ridgewood has its roots on the West Side and favors slower growth in high density housing. The Concerned Residents of Ridgewood is based in the Travel/BF/Somerville neighborhood and favors a smaller-scale modernization effort by the Hospital. Friends of Schedler are in the neighborhoods east of Route 17 and favor preserving the woodlands on that property. Most recently, a group of tax payers from all over town that favors a 4 level garage over a 5 level garage has successfully petitioned to bring that issue to a vote.

After 4 years of a “Council majority” that has claimed to know what’s best for the rest of us and has insulted anyone that has disagreed with them, it looks like we might actually be able to take the town back from special interest groups and Council members with personal agendas.

Candidates Bernie Walsh, Jeff Voight and Ramon Hache have the very unique opportunity to unite these neighborhoods in our quest to preserve our property values and the charm of our Village. Please vote for them on May 10.

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Citizens for a Better Ridgewood Says 5pm Special Public Meeting Substantially eliminates the ability of most Residents from being able to attend

village council meeting

file photo by Boyd Loving


There will be a Village Council Special Public Meeting held on Friday, January 8, 2016 @ 5PM in the Court Room at Village Hall.  Various Consultants will be presenting proposals for the 4 Multi-Family Housing Studies covering; fiscal impact, traffic, education & municipal infrastructure

Dear Councilwoman Knudsen, Village Council and Village Manager:

On behalf of the Supporters of Citizens for a Better Ridgewood (CBR), I request that the Village Council promptly review and change the date of the Multifamily Housing Impact Study Presentations, which are apparently set for Friday, January 8th at 5pm.  This meeting MUST be scheduled at a time that will encourage Resident input and attendance… after all it is called a “Special PUBLIC Meeting.”  The current scheduling has the direct and true effect of substantially eliminating the ability of many (or most)  Residents from being able to attend.  We recognize you are working hard to expedite these presentations, but nevertheless, the serious public attendance issues with a Friday 1/8, 5pm timeslot should have been evident and understood as a given before making this problematic change.  This issue and this meeting are too important to your Resdients.  Beyond the fact that Fridays are generally an inopportune time for such events, the 5pm timing eliminates most Residents with school age children (as this is their dinnertime), as well as the majority of our workers and commuters, who will not be home in time to attend.  Given this, who then, is this “Public” meeting planned for?

While I am sure this was not intended, leaving the meeting set for such a difficult time, creates the divisive appearance that the Village Council is seeking to bypass or avoid public attendance and input.  That is most certainly not what our Council, or our Village needs at this time.  Our Mayor has been a vocal advocate of finding ways to improve the tenor of public discourse.  Providing an “inaccessible” meeting time, for such an important event, will raise the level of frustration, Resident-exclusion and act as a setback to those noble intents.

The timing of this meeting is wrong for Ridgewood.  Please reschedule at a time that encourages public attendance.

Thank you in advance.


Dave Slomin

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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 Drops Lawsuit Against Ridgewood

October 15,2015
the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, A spokesman for CBR just made an announcement at tonight council meeting that they are withdrawing their lawsuit against the village  for the changes in the master plan for the Central Business District ( CBD ).

Stating that they trust the council with do the right thing after their decision to do more studies on the large project. Do you believe that. Something smells. They trust the “3 amigos”, (Paul Aronsohn ,Albert Pucciarelli, and Genn Hauck )after all they have done , what is that PT Barnum once said ….

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the Fly was just wondering


….Several weeks back it was posted  on the blog  that  the grass roots group Citizens for a Better Ridgewood had filed suit against the Village of Ridgewood and or The Ridgewood Planning Board to stop the change in the master plan for the CBD. The Fly has since learned that no one at Village Hall has any knowledge or has been served  with the paperwork . Can someone enlighten the Fly on where the law suit stands?

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Citizens for a Better Ridgewood : Recap of Wednesday’s High Density Housing Meeting

Village Council Meeting

photo by Boyd Loving

Editors note : Great job to the Citizens for a Better Ridgewood but we would like to point out the it is an Elected Officials JOB to listen to their constituents concerns , council members do not need to be thanked because it took 500 screaming residents to show up to a Village Council meeting to pay attention to obvious short comings in their misguided efforts to transform Ridgewood into Hoboken .

Hello Friends and Neighbors!

We would like to thank each and every one of you!
Thank you for sending emails to Village Council members and for showing up at Wednesday night’s meeting.  Hundreds and hundreds of concerned residents came to Village Hall!  Many of you not only showed up, but you waited on line, spoke at the podium and stayed late into the night. Your comments were thoughtful and heartfelt.  We are grateful for your passion and support.

Council Tables The Vote and Orders New Studies
The meeting lasted 5.5 hours and 76 residents took to the podium, almost all in favor of housing but at a lower density level.  At 11:00 pm, council members began discussing whether or not to continue the public hearing to another date, as it was already late into the evening.   Councilman Michael Sedon made a motion to table the ordinances until a fiscal impact study could be done, which would help determine the effects the new apartment buildings would have on the tax base.  Councilwoman Susan Knudsen seconded the motion, and asked that a comprehensive traffic study and school impact study also be completed.

These are three important studies that were never conducted at the Planning Board level.  The Planning Board is not allowed to consider fiscal or educational impacts in decision-making. Although this seems unreasonable, it is common practice throughout municipalities everywhere.  The financial and school-related considerations are left to elected officials, who have the final word and who are presumably much more in touch with the public at large.

Some traffic studies were conducted at the Planning Board level. However, the studies were specific to each proposed development and only addressed the traffic effects at individual each site. The studies never addressed the cumulative effects that developing all of these sites at the same time, while also adding a parking garage and an assisted living facility, would have on traffic in downtown Ridgewood.  Similarly, the analyses that were done at the Planning Board level to estimate the number of school-aged children that may be added to our school district if hundreds of apartments were to be built, were based on data from other towns in the state of NJ, but not towns with school districts comparable to the Ridgewood Public School system.

Mayor Paul Aronsohn agreed with the need for further studies and voted yes with Sedon and Knudsen.  Councilwoman Gwen Hauck initially expressed concern about the additional cost and time needed to complete studies, but she ultimately went along and voted to approve the studies.  Deputy Mayor Pucciarelli was the only one to vote no at the time, because he was intent on finishing the process of public comment before taking any action.  Once public comment was finished, Mr. Pucciarelli appeared supportive of further studies.

Next Steps
The Public Hearings have been continued until Monday, November 9th, with the hope that the new studies will be completed in a timely manner.   We are thankful that our Village Council is moving forward with these additional studies, and it appears as if democracy has prevailed. Now it is up to you to continue to show up to the meetings.  As the process continues, residents will be able to listen to the experts and question them as well.  This is your opportunity to fully participate and have a stake in how our village moves forward.  Please continue to stay engaged!

Final Note
We encourage you to reach out to your council members to thank them for hearing us and for agreeing to continue the process with further studies.  We continue, as always, to encourage respectful and thoughtful dialogue!

If you know of any one who would like to receive CBR emails and notifications of upcoming meetings, please tell them to email us and put “Add me to Email List” in the subject line.

Thank you again for all of your support!!

Citizens for a Better Ridgewood

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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

We are overwhelmed by the number of residents who have emailed council members, canvassed the community to help spread the word, and shared thoughtful opinions on social media. You are all awesome! Ridgewood is amazing — and worth every effort!




The agenda says the meeting starts at 7:30 pm, but please arrive by 7 pm to get a seat.


PLEASE bring your friends, family members, neighbors. A room filled with concerned citizens is our only chance to urge Council members to reconsider enacting these ordinances in their present form.

Details about the Meeting
Please come early and carpool, if possible. Park on both sides of Vets, at Graydon and on side streets, if needed.
The Mayor has stated that ALL residents will be heard (…/ridgewood-mayor-a…/592174/).
If the meeting room on the fourth floor fills to capacity, overflow will be directed to the senior lounge on the first floor with a live stream of the meeting.
We encourage EVERYONE to sign his/her name, take a number and get into the cue to speak. Please approach the podium and say something as simple as “I oppose raising the density to 35 units per acre. Please vote NO.” The more people who voice opposition, the better. Short and sweet is good! It’s going to be a long evening.

This is YOUR village and you do have a voice. This will be your last chance to speak up!!

Thank you for your continued support! We hope to see you tomorrow!

Citizens For A Better Ridgewood

3 DAYS LEFT…..Email council to VOTE NO!Paul Aronsohn – paronsohn@ridgewoodnj.netAlbert Pucciarelli – apucciarelli@…

Posted by Citizens For A Better Ridgewood on Sunday, September 27, 2015

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Citizens for a Better Ridgewood : Pushes Letter Writing Campaign to Halt Over Development


Please attend the final meeting next Wednesday AND email council members now! (Easy cut-and-paste letter below )

Ridgewood Residents!! An unprecedented, sweeping urban-zoning change is coming to Ridgewood!

Please attend the Village Council meeting on September 30 at 7:30 in Village Hall, and please write your council members to voice your concerns.

A sample letter is below if you wish to simply cut, paste, sign and send to:

Paul Aronsohn –
Albert Pucciarelli –
Gwenn Hauck –
Susan Knudsen –
Michael Sedon –


Dear Council Member,
I am a citizen and a voter of Ridgewood and am writing to urge you to “Vote No” to the high-density housing ordinances on September 30th.

A “Yes” vote risks diminishing our quality of life forever, creating urban-scaled developments that are entirely inconsistent with our town’s size and character.

For generations Ridgewood has taken great pains to protect the small town character of our community by smart zoning in both our business and residential districts. In one night, on September 30th, the Village Council could destroy the legacy and the trust of all these generations.

Amending the master plan to truly “spot zone” at the requests of a few developers is a mistake. And despite some council-member’s baseless claims of widespread support for high density zoning, it is NOT supported by a majority of residents. This was clearly evidenced by the landslide wins in the last council election for the two candidates who spoke openly against the high-density amendment.

The ordinances should be rejected because they will:
Forever change the small town feel of Ridgewood;

Potentially add too many kids to our schools, which are already full to capacity;

Worsen our existing parking and traffic crisis;

Risk increasing our excessive property taxes, if the developments do not succeed financially, or if more children live there than you estimated;

Over stress our limited water supply and aging infrastructure;

Overburden our maxed out ballfields and open spaces; and

Result in a cascade of me-too lawsuits from neighboring property owners who similarly wish to benefit from the profits to be attained from building a 35 unit per acre development in the Central Business District.

The Planning Board never did any comprehensive independent study on these changes. They relied far too heavily on biased data provided by developers. On the Council’s end, you have not done any financial studies (which are now allowed at the Planning Board level), to better gauge impacts on the Village. You don’t know the full impacts. As such, approvals on 9/30 will be reckless.
I will be paying close attention to YOUR VOTE on this crucial issue, which will strongly influence MY VOTE in the coming election.
Please do the right thing — stand with the overwhelming majority of citizens who oppose this risky plan and VOTE NO to the ordinances as they stand now.

(your name goes here)

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Citizens for a Better Ridgewood : Say NO to High Density Housing

Please copy and paste this Quick and Easy email message to council. We MUST be heard. The more people who send the more we will be heard. Feel free to add your own personal touch.

Step 1: copy and paste these email addresses into the recipient line:

Step 2: copy and paste this into the Subject line:
Say NO to High Density Housing

Step 3: copy and paste this text into the message:


Dear Village Council,


I’m writing to urge you to vote “no” on the high density housing proposed for our Historic Central Business District. The density is too high and should not be considered for Ridgewood. If you think it should be considered, please take the time to first listen to the people who elected you then take the time to hear from real experts about the impact on taxes, traffic, infrastructure, schools, property values, quality of life, stress on services, and more.


The impact on our Village will be irreversible and this permanent change requires more than just two meetings and a quick vote. It certainly requires you to consider the will of the public, the homeowners, the taxpayers, the residents, the VOTERS who elected you!


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Citizens for a Better Ridgewood Urges Residents to Speak Up at Public Meetings on High Density Housing for the Central Business District

village council meeting

file photo by Boyd Loving

September 25,2015
the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, the Village Council has now scheduled two public meetings to gather public input on the high density housing projects planned for the central business district .The two public hearings are scheduled for THIS Wednesday, September 16 at 8 pm, and Wednesday, September 30.

This is an opportunity to Voice your opinion or just be present to show you care about a series of “sweeping reforms” that will allow high-density housing to be built in our Central Business District.  The Village Council will vote on September 30. These reforms will change the character of the Village for ever and may effect both the quality of life and property values in the Village .

The grass roots group CBR urges everyone to show up and be heard .

A room filled with concerned citizens is a chance to urge Council members to reconsider enacting these ordinances in their present form.
This is YOUR village and you do have a voice. These two hearings will be your last chance to speak up

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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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Ridgewood sued over high-density housing plan


AUGUST 17, 2015, 7:26 PM    LAST UPDATED: TUESDAY, AUGUST 18, 2015, 6:31 AM

RIDGEWOOD — A grassroots citizens group long opposed to any change to the master plan that would permit the construction of high-density multifamily housing projects downtown is suing the village and its Planning Board.

The lawsuit — filed by Citizens for a Better Ridgewood on Aug. 10 in Bergen County’s Superior Court in Hackensack — seeks a judge’s order reversing the Planning Board’s June 2 decision.

Ridgewood officials — including Mayor Paul Aronsohn, a member of the Planning Board — refused to comment on pending litigation.

The board’s June vote to raise the number of allowable housing units per acre in four of the village’s zones to 35 from 12 ended five years of meetings, public hearings, and expert testimony on the master plan amendments, which were first requested by developers keen on building in town.

The developments pitched include The Dayton, a 106-unit luxury garden apartment complex at the site of the former Brogan Cadillac dealership; the 50-unit Chestnut Village, on Chestnut Street; and the 52-unit Enclave, on East Ridgewood and North Maple avenues.

The suit alleges board members and village professionals met privately with the developers requesting the master plan revisions, violating the state’s Open Public Meetings Act.

The lawsuit calls the Ridgewood Planning Board’s decision “arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable,” and contends two of the board’s members should have recused themselves.

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Citizens for a Better Ridgewood turns on Council

Village _council_meeting_theridgewoodblog

file photo Boyd Loving
Our fight to protect our village is NOT OVER!
Jun 3, 2015
Citizens for a Better Ridgewood

Ridgewood NJ,  Last night, our petition was treated as if it was a joke. The community outreach that should of occurred before this major decision was made, never happened. It has all fallen in the laps of concerned citizens who simply care about their surroundings. Please make sure each and everyone of you are registered to VOTE. We will show our disappointment during the next election cycle or even earlier than that if need be. Spread this petition and have all household members who are 18 and over sign this as well.

VOTE NO on the High-Density Housing Amendment at 35 Units Per Acre! ** LAST MINUTE PETITION! **