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Courts Ram Development Down the Throats of Englewood Cliffs Residents

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the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Englewood Cliffs NJ, a development on  Sylvan Avenue that was at the center of a lengthy and contentious legal battle over “affordable housing” in the borough, is moving forward yet again.

Continue reading Courts Ram Development Down the Throats of Englewood Cliffs Residents

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Village of Ridgewood 2022 Calendars Out First Week of January 2022

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the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, Village Calendars for 2022 should be delivered to all Ridgewood residences during the first full week of January – The Village calendar lists all sanitation, recycling, and yard waste pickups (spring through early fall). In addition, all meetings of the Village Council, Planning Board, Zoning Board of Adjustment, and Library Board of Trustees are listed on the calendar; and the Holidays that Village offices are closed are also listed.  The January 2022 calendar is also found in the 2021 calendar, on the page after the December calendar.
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the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, The Ridgewood Village Council is looking for residents who are interested in volunteering to serve on the following Boards and Committees:  Planning Board, Zoning Board of Adjustment, The Central Business District Advisory Committee, The Ridgewood Community Center Advisory Board (two members are needed with a child in the Ridgewood School system), The Ridgewood Arts Council, the Shade Tree Commission, Green Ridgewood, and the Ridgewood Green Team.


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Updated Timeline for Ridgewood’s New Master Plan


the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, Prior to our lives changing significantly, we presented the Preliminary Draft of the Village of Ridgewood Master Plan – Section 1: Our Village, Our Future to the Planning Board on March 3 and to Council on March 4 (click here to view a streaming video of the Council meeting; Planning Board minutes forthcoming). Our next internal steps are to prepare the draft for publication to the website, create an online form for receiving comments, and post the draft for you to read.

Continue reading Updated Timeline for Ridgewood’s New Master Plan

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Village of Ridgewood Planning Board September 20th Meeting




Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Village Hall Court Room– 7:30 P.M.

(all timeframes and the order of agenda items below are approximate and subject to change)


  1. 7:30 p.m. – Call to Order, Statement of Compliance, Flag Salute, Roll Call – In accordance with the provisions of Section 10:4-8d of the Open Public Meetings Act, the date, location, and time of the commencement of this meeting is reflected in a meeting notice, a copy of which schedule has been filed with the Village Manager and the Village Clerk, The Ridgewood News and The Record newspapers, and posted on the bulletin board in the entry lobby of the Village municipal offices at 131 North Maple Avenue, and on the Village website, all in accordance with the provisions of the Open Public Meetings Act.Roll call: Knudsen, Voigt, Altano, Joel, Reilly, Patire, Thurston, Scheibner, Torielli, McWilliams
  2. 7:35 p.m. – 7:40 p.m. – Public Comments on Topics not Pending Before the Board
  3. 7:40 p.m. – 7:45 p.m. – Committee/Commission/Professional Updates for Non Agenda Topics, Correspondence Received by the Board
  4. 7:45 p.m. – 10:15 p.m. – Ridgewood/Dayton, Preliminary and Final Major Site Plan, 100 & 152 South Broad Street, Blocks 3707/3905, Lots 5.01/1.01 – Public Hearing continued from September 6, 2016
  5. 10:15 p.m. – 10:20 p.m. – Adoption of Minutes: October 20, 2015
  6. 10:20 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. – Unfinished Business and New Business- Open Space Committee Liaison, Resolution re: Appointment of Alternate Planning Board Counsel, Scheduling of meetings and applications, Committee Appointments, and discussion of any other open items
  7. 10:30 p.m. – Executive Session (if necessary)
  8. AdjournmentIn accordance with the Open Public Meetings Act, all meetings of the Ridgewood Planning Board (i.e., official public meetings, work sessions, pre-meeting assemblies and special meetings) are public meetings, which are always open to members of the general public.

    Members: Susan Knudsen, Jeff Voigt, Joel Torielli, Melanie McWilliams, David Scheibner, Richard Joel, Kevin Reilly, David Thurston, Isabella Altano, Debbie Patire

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Ridgewood Village Council Moves to Repeal Controversial Ordinance 3066

Ridgewood Village Council

July 21,2016

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, The Village Council repealed an ordinance that has in many residents eyes opened the door to unpopular village master plan amendments that included clearing the way for The Valley Hospital’s expansion and construction of high-density housing downtown.

The ordinance, No. 3066, was adopted in 2007 and states that “any interested party” can formally request amendments to either the master plan or its development regulations. The requests must be reviewed by the village, and the ordinance also outlines how a party must file such requests, as well as the fee structure for doing so.

Village Planner Blais Brancheau authored the ordinance nine years ago and has steadfastly claimed it was to “establish a clear procedure” for handling amendment requests and let the village charge the requesting party the cost of the professionals involved. Brancheau claims that without the ordinance, those costs would be carried by Ridgewood taxpayers.Critics of 3066 have long felt the Village had lost control of the planning process.

It was introduced by the Village Council under Mayor Pfund in 2007 ( ). Chapter § 190-143 of the amended Village Code is the kicker; it established procedures for interested persions (i.e. developers) to request amendments to the Village Master Plan or development regulations.

Council members Mancuso, Ringler Shagin, Wiest, and Pfund all voted in favor of the ordinance. Chapter § 190-143 is here .

Over the years many residents argue that this should be repealed to ensure that we don’t see overdevelopment at Valley and in the CBD in terms of densities and building scale. It’s felt this will better protect our property values.

But last night the council agreed to repeal Ordinance 3066 once and for all in all its glory which will allow the Village to once again gain control of its own destiny and close the door on incongruous non conforming development. The final repeal will come in the August public meeting.

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Village Council Meeting Tonight : The implications of Monday’s ruling serves to underscore the unwise, biased and, unacceptable for Ridgewood, process undertaken by the prior Planning Board and Council.




JULY 13, 2016 at 7:30pm 

July 12,2016

Dear Mayor, Council and Mr. Rogers:

Below are two articles, from today’s WSJ and Bergen Record, on Monday’simportant NJ Appeals Court ruling on Affordable Housing (AH) that will: (1) substantially lower the overall number of AH units required by municipalities under AH laws, and (2) may cause further delay in defining the actual obligations of municipalities under AH laws.  In the Record article, even Kevin Walsh, the Fair Share Housing advocate (whose threatening of “hearsay” letter was wrongly permitted to be read into the Planning Board’s record by attorney, Gail Price – as if it represented a legal determination – scaring some Board Members and improperly influencing votes) indicated the forthcoming delays from this ruling, saying: “it requires further studies.”

In short, this ruling and these articles support what I, and other members of CBR, tried to convey to the Planning Board and Village Council during the past couple of years of overstated AH ‘threats’ proffered by Mrs. Price:  that the Affordable Housing/COAH matter is, despite her puzzling advice, very unsettled and will continue to lack real clarity, potentially for years to come.  It’s been that way since the 80s.  No Legislature wants to fully effect the laws because they recognize their often impossible demands on NJ’s municipalities.  However, conversely, no legislature, or legislator (other than Christie), has effectively sought to rework them or strike them down due to the obvious political implications.

These laws are just too flawed, resulting in the tumult and dysfunction of the past several decades.  Fact is:  there are no clearly defined AH numbers for Ridgewood right now.  And there’s a chance there may never be.  Given this, our representatives need to govern planning based on “what is right for Ridgewood now and in the future” and not “what minimizes builder’s remedy lawsuits.”

I firmly believe Mrs. Price wrongly influenced the Planning Board decision on the Multifamily Ordinances by alleging that a “Yes” vote was needed on the Master Plan changes, enabling development at the excessive levels sought by developers, to avoid potential developer lawsuits based on recent AH court rulings.  As many anticipated, these rulings have now been lessened, and to some degree, called into question.  Unfortunately, Mrs. Price  never properly educated the Board on how dysfunctional the AH/COAH laws and politics have been (and very well will be), and that until such time as an unlikely final verdict is delivered, they should be wary reacting too quickly to threats from developers.

The implications of Monday’s ruling serves to underscore the unwise, biased and, unacceptable for Ridgewood, process undertaken by the prior Planning Board and Council.  While we can and should promote fitting and proper development (and proper “development process”) in Ridgewood, which does add affordable units to our housing base, we should never have done this in the manner – fraught with bias and influence – that occurred over the past four years.

Beyond this, I believe there are certainly other ways Ridgewood can more properly and proactively plan to meet future AF/COAH requirements.  These ways may be more creative and better for both Ridgewood and those truly needing AH than those put forth by the developers.  I look forward to discussing my thoughts on them with you.  I have been in the multifamily business for two decades, have managed many properties with affordable and moderately priced units, and am happy to share my experience.

Lastly, it is important to note that if members of the prior Planning Board and Village Council voted out of fear of lawsuits, they already got one:  and sadly it’s from their own Residents, the very people they were elected or selected to properly represent.  It’s a suit that alleges decisions based upon conflict of interest, outside influence, and improper representation and, most importantly, seeks to correct the serious mistakes in planning, representation and judgement made by the prior Council and Planning Board.

While the AH/COAH laws truly lack clarity, what is clear is that Ridgewood’s Residents demand proper planning and process.  There is a much better route than the one taken by the prior Planning Board and Council.

Best Regards,

Dave Slomin, Resident

Follow up _________________________________________________________________

July 13,2016

Dear Mayor, Council and Village Attorney Rogers,

My July 12th email provoked feedback from a good number of fellow Residents and representatives various Ridgewood citizen groups, including responses to my letter and the linked articles with concern that pro-development attorneys may contend the appellate decision does not “change anything.”  As the agenda indicates tonight’s Council meeting will address litigation in closed session, I wanted to make sure my comments were placed in the proper context, asMonday’s ruling does impact things here in Ridgewood.

My point is that the ruling exemplifies the significant dysfunction and lack of clarity that continues to exist (as it has for several decades) in the Affordable Housing definitions and determinations at the State level.   This highlights the Planning Board attorney’s failure to properly advise the Board on how to address these issues.   Mrs. Price, as a professional land use attorney, was well aware of this dysfunction and should never have counseled our Planning Board as she did.  By proceeding as if the now reversed lower court decision was new “scripture,” and by either misunderstanding and/or  misapplying other standards, the Planning Board attorney wrongly influenced the public debate and Board members’ votes.  Necessarily, therefore, the Village Council proceeded under a flawed process and construct.

I do understand that whether State rulings ultimately determine that Ridgewood owes 50, or 100, or 500, or 1,000, or 100,000,000 affordable units, we are well short of that number and need to provide some additional AH units.  From that singular perspective the ruling has a more limited impact. However, that is not the issue at hand.  Rather, the issue is the defective and conflicted process in our municipal governance effecting the passage of recent pro-development ordinances.  As such, what the appellate court’s decision signifies to me – as a multifamily real estate professional, with several decades of experience – is that the law has been and will be in a state of flux for some time to come.  That no one can predict with certainty what will happen should definitely have been strongly conveyed to the Planning Board and Village Council prior to their votes.  It was not. That is why the willingness of the prior majorities on the Council and Planning Board to side with those speculating with our downtown  is so particularly egregious.  Rather than react and surrender to an imagined obligations, or cave to the potential of developer lawsuits, Ridgewood should have performed correct and proper master planning with proper construct and counsel.  There were so many things wrong and biased in their failed excuse for “planning.”  You have the opportunity to begin the process of correcting this and protect Ridgewood from reckless overbuilding now and in the future.

Thus, I urge the newly constituted Council to address all pending litigation in view of the voters’  mandate.  And you do have a clear cut mandate.  Mayor Knudsen and Deputy Mayor Sedon both won their council seats in a landslide two years ago.  And in the recent election, not only did Councilmembers Voigt, Hache and Walsh win in another landslide, but they routed the candidates heavily promoted by Aronsohn, Pucciarelli and Hauck to promote furtherance of development at the excessive scale and density recently passed.  Then, subsequent to these elections, Residents next defeated the oversized garage by a vote of 2 to 1.  These were not just victories.  They were repudiations.  They represent the voices and the clarity with which Ridgewood Residents speak and vote once we know the truth.  Residents have spoken.  You know very well what your constituents want.  The recent votes leave no questions whatsoever.  Your actions need to reflect the mandate we gave you.

Now is the perfect opportunity for the Village to move forward in acknowledgement of the serious issues raised by litigation in the housing and  hospital lawsuits. With these suits, along with the garage referendum matter, you need to rectify Ridgewood’s core problems.  Let’s show progress by first openly acknowledging that serious mistakes were made by the prior Council and Board Members.   We all know it… our votes showed it.  A perfect starting point for that is to recognize the legitimacy of the issues raised by our fellow citizens’ lawsuits, and settle those lawsuits as strong representatives of your constituents and not as officials fearful of outside interests.  Then, let’s redirect the Village’s resources to focus on the developers with either settlement talks or continuing litigation, whatever is required to do what is truly right for Ridgewood.  If you do what’s right, you will have our endless support.  If any shortcuts are taken, Ridgewood’s divisions will sadly remain.  And it’s time to end our divisions.

Lastly, please note I am including Mayor Knudsen in this email, as I entered her email incorrectly in my email of 7/12.

I look forward to your response.

Best Regards,

Dave Slomin

Concerned Resident



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Readers Discuss the Serving on Village of Ridgewood boards and committees

May 16,2016
the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, The Village Council is looking for residents who are interested in volunteering to serve on the following Boards and Committees:  Planning Board, Zoning Board of Adjustment, The Ridgewood Community Center Advisory Board, The Financial Advisory Committee, The Ridgewood Arts Council, and the Shade Tree Commission.

If you want to get involved in Village governance volunteering for Village boards or committees is a great place to start.
There is no upper age limit. The only qualifications are to have something in one’s background that suggests a good fit with the desired committee or whatever. There needs to be enough on the application form and accompanying CV or autobiography to encourage the council to invite the person for an interview. Often these positions are in demand and the council has to have some reason to choose people over others. Yes, residency in Ridgewood is a requirement but you don’t have to have lived here for any particular length of time (viz. Evan Weitz’s Financial Advisory Committee chairmanship upon crossing the town line).

The time commitment is often three years (often renewable by mutual agreement between the individual and the current council at that time), although it varies, but people can quit if they are going to move or an emergency such as illness arises. That’s one reason there are alternates on the Planning Board and Zoning Board, so there’s always someone ready to step in quickly on boards that make very important decisions.

Members of any committee etc. are of course expected to attend meetings regularly, so if a certain night of the week, say, would be an automatic deal breaker, look at the back pages of the village calendar for an idea of which nights each group meets: for example, the Zoning Board of Adjustment meets on a couple of Tuesdays a month. Council members Susan Knudsen and Mike Sedon can answer Also Village Clerk Heather Mailander,, or call her at village hall, 201-670-5500, ext. 201.

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Village of Ridgewood Seeks Resident Volunteers to Serve on Various Boards and Committees

New Broom Sweeps Clean


May 15,2016

the staff of the Ridgewood

Ridgewood NJ, The Village Council is looking for residents who are interested in volunteering to serve on the following Boards and Committees:  Planning Board, Zoning Board of Adjustment, The Ridgewood Community Center Advisory Board, The Financial Advisory Committee, The Ridgewood Arts Council, and the Shade Tree Commission.

The Planning Board reviews site plans and subdivision applications; prepares, adopts, and amends the Master Plan; makes recommendations to the Village Council regarding amendments to developmental regulations and the official map.

The Zoning Board of Adjustment hears variance applications and appeals from rulings and determinations arising from the enforcement of Village zoning ordinances.

The Community Center Advisory Board develops policies and procedures for the operation of the Community Center facility and assists in the fulfillment of the County Municipal Alliance Grant requirements.  Membership includes:  Senior Citizen residents; adult residents with children in the school system; and adult residents with no children in the school system.

The Financial Advisory Committee assists in the review and understanding of the financial considerations necessary to the operation of the Village and the Village’s preparation of the Annual and Capital Budgets; provides review, advice and recommendations to the Village Council on Village financial and budgetary matters; and prepares an annual report for the Village Council to assist the Councilmembers in their budget preparation.  Members will preferably have strong finance, accounting, government and/or business backgrounds.

The Ridgewood Arts Council will assist in the promotion of and encourage artistic and cultural programs and will provide for educational opportunities in the areas of art and culture.  The Ridgewood Arts Council will also provide advice, guidance, and recommendations to the Village Council, as needed.

The Shade Tree Commission works closely with the Parks and Recreation Department, the Ridgewood Environmental Advisory Committee, and the Green Team to promote awareness and education of the residents as well as advise and provide recommendations to the Village Council in promoting and sustaining a safe and productive shade tree resource.

All interested residents should fill out a Citizen Volunteer Leadership form (found on the Village website under “Forms”), and send it along with a cover letter indicating on which board(s) or committee(s) the resident wishes to serve, and a biography or resume to:

Heather Mailander
Village Clerk
Village of Ridgewood
131 North Maple Ave.
Ridgewood, NJ  07451

Deadline for submissions is May 26, 2016.

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Reader asks will Brooks ever be able to vote on any subject whatsoever that has been addressed by the Ridgewood Planning Board?


A question about Brooks – – since his wife is the planning board attorney who steered the Valley expansion through the Planning Board, will he ever be able to vote on a Valley related matter one way or the other? Won’t there always be a conflict of interest presented by the concern that he is merely voting to prop up and validate her advice to the Board during their deliberations?

For that matter, will Brooks ever be able to vote on any subject whatsoever that has been addressed by the Planning Board? Isn’t he going to have to sit on the sideline during the next couple of years? Even if she and her firm were to resign now from the planning board, the big decisions of the past few years are going to be fine tuned and acted on by the council over the next couple of years.

In that case, electing Brooks would equate to electing an empty chair.

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Planning Board reviews Ridgewood garage proposal

hudson parking garage


A presentation of the current plans for the proposed Hudson Street parking garage was provided to the village’s Planning Board at the Oct. 20 meeting, allowing members the opportunity to have a question and answer session with designers and architects.

Tim Tracy, principal for Desman Design Management, gave the board a primer on the garage, which will give Ridgewood a net gain of approximately 300 spaces over the current set up on Hudson Street.

Tracy reviewed the size constraints for the site as the process by which Desman arrived at the solution of building a cantilever over the sidewalk for the top levels of the garage that was able to give the village more spaces and better parking efficiency by adding an additional row of spaces.

Although the garage is exempt from zoning standards, Tracy noted they tried to come as close to complying with regulations as possible without sacrificing efficiency. One example is the rear yard setback, which is required to be 26 feet. With the eastern end of the garage considered the rear of the property, the setback there is approximately 23 1/2 feet.

The five-level, four story parking facility currently sits at 51 feet high, although Tracy said when the final design is complete, the building will be closer to 48 feet. A couple of the driving factors in that regard are the eight-foot clearance required on the ground floor and the supporting slabs on the cantilevered section.

The height of the building was certainly the concern of some board members. Nancy Bigos asked if the garage could be built as at least a partially underground structure to ease the scale of the deck.

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November 17th Planning Board Meeting Pushed Forward to November 9th


Planning Board Meeting – Cancelled November 17 – Scheduled November 9



Cancelled: November 17, 2015, Public Meeting

Scheduled: Work Session & Special Public Meeting: Monday, November 9, 2015

In accordance with the provisions of the “Open Public Meetings Act,” please be advised that the Ridgewood Planning Board has scheduled a special public meeting and work session for Monday, November 9, 2015 at 6:30 p.m. in the Annie Zusy Room on the ground floor at the Village Hall, at 131 North Maple Avenue, Ridgewood. Formal action may or may not be taken. The meeting scheduled for November 17, 2015 has been cancelled.

The agenda for the meeting includes the following, subject to change:

1. An executive session to discuss pending litigation, beginning at 6:30 p.m. and concluding at approximately 7:30 p.m.

2. Continued discussion of the reexamination of the Master Plan and development regulations, pertaining to the topics of circulation and community facilities.

3. Discussion of the preparation of the housing element of the master plan.

4. Adoption of minutes.

With the exception of Executive Sessions, all meetings of the Ridgewood Planning Board (i.e., official public meetings, work session meetings, pre-meeting assemblies and special meetings) are public meetings which are always open to members of the general public.

Michael Cafarelli

Secretary to the Board

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Planning Board, Ridgewood restaurant still seeking a solution over color scheme

Titos Burritos


A discussion on Tito’s Burritos color scheme will have to wait until next month as the Planning Board announced the matter would be carried to the second meeting in October.

Planning Board attorney Gail Price notified the board that attorney David Rutherford had sent a letter requesting the application be carried until the Oct. 20 meeting, stating his client was still working on a few items.

Price said Rutherford’s email indicated they were “re-working” things and were going back for another meeting with the village’s Historic Preservation Commission (HPC).

Board alternate Isabella Altano and Councilwoman Susan Knudsen indicated that representatives from Tito’s had recently met with the HPC to discuss the situation and possible solutions.

A public hearing began last month as Tito’s co-owner Mike Caldarella admitted the dark blue paint job on the front entrance was done accidentally, but without permission from the town.

However, some members of the board took issue with the color scheme itself, as did the HPC, which believes the color is out of character with the surrounding buildings.

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Floodgates Open for High Density Housing plans in Central Business District

20150611_111625_resized (1)

June 25,2015
the staff of the Ridgewood blog

RIDGEWOOD NJ, On its June 2nd Vote the Planning Board has approved resolutions of four master plan amendments permitting high-density, multifamily housing projects downtown.The resolutions were passed by the Village Planning board last week in its first meeting since its recent vote increasing the number of allowable housing units per acre in four distinct village zones to 35 from 12.

35 Units per acre was approved by the Ridgewood Planning Board in a 6  to 3 vote, in what can only be described as a victory for special interests over the residents of the Village . Last night the Planning Board approved a  change to the Village master plan from a density of 12 units per acre (current) to a density of 35 units per acre (almost triple) , giving the Village Central Business District a higher density than Hackensack 22 units per acre, Teaneck 28 units per acre, or Fair Lawn 17 units per acre.

The Village Council still has to approve the changes in the Master Plan .The amendments will be discussed by the council for the first time at its meeting Wednesday  July 8, were the council will review the draft ordinances and suggest changes. These changes could be formally adopted by September.

There are three proposed developments are 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 and of coarse there is also the matter of the new parking garaged planned for Hudson Street.

All three developers still need to file applications with the village, seeking approval from the Planning Board for each of their projects.

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Parking garage may now cost up to $15 million


June 24,2015
Boyd A. Loving

Ridgewood NJ, Despite the contention by Ridgewood Deputy Mayor Albert Pucciarelli that nobody on the dais knows exactly how much the new parking garage will cost (“. . . no price has been set. . . “) the number $15 million was put into play during Wednesday evening’s Village Council Work Session.  The last I heard (just a few weeks ago), the number being kicked around was $10 million.  A 50% increase in less than 60 days; I must say, somewhat surprising, but not utterly shocking.

Ridgewood Mayor Paul Aronsohn said on Wednesday evening that between $10-$15 million in public finding would “presumably” be “asked for.”  Then the Mayor read the draft of a question intended to be part of a non-binding referendum the Council is considering including on the ballot of November’s general election.

The draft question was read as follows:  “Do you support a proposal to finance and build a downtown parking garage on the Hudson Street lot, located on the corner of Hudson Street and South Broad Street, by bonding up to $15 million of public funds through Parking Utility revenues.”

Remember folks; following damage caused by Hurricane Floyd, renovations to Village Hall were expected to cost $4.5 million (or at least that’s what taxpayers were told).  Change orders approved by the Village Council back then escalated the actual costs to above $11 million.  How far above $11 million we spent is a closely guarded secret.

So now we’re being told, by our mayor, that we might spend up to $15 million to build a single garage.  Anyone out there want to hazard a guess on what the real number will turn out to be?  Will history (the Village Hall renovation fiasco) repeat itself?

And what about the language of that draft question (and you can insert any number you want into the equation).  Is it just me, or would many of you interpret that language to indicate Parking Utility revenues will completely pay for the project (including bond interest?).  Translation, our property taxes won’t increase?  Am I the only one who’s a bit worried by that statement?

I am neither for nor against the financing and construction a parking garage at this point, but I am completely against being misled as to projected costs and the impact on an average homeowner’s property tax bill.  I refuse to be fooled again.

If there is a non-binding referendum on your November ballot, be sure to read the entire financing plan very carefully before you make a choice.