Good evening, and thanks to everyone who is joining us tonight both in person and online this evening. As a reminder, public comment will be accepted in person only, and we are live streaming for viewing only via Facebook. As always, the replay will also be available afterwards on Facebook, YouTube, and TV 36.
Before we get to tonight’s agenda, I want to thank the many Town employees and volunteers who delivered a wide variety of events over the past week. This morning, I attended the annual Crossing Guard Breakfast, hosted by BRAKES, and had the pleasure of thanking our dedicated crossing guards in person for the work that they perform to keep our community safe. ACMS, who manages the Town’s program, reports that they have been operating at full staffing capacity throughout the school year, which includes sufficient substitutes to fill absences. As a result, our Police Department no longer spends its valuable time and resources in crossing guard posts, but instead on their primary law enforcement issues. Thank you to the WPD, along with the Westfield Public Schools, for their show of support at this morning’s breakfast.
I hope you had the opportunity this past weekend to enjoy some of the many great events that were held throughout Town – including Autism Awareness Month activities, flag football mini-camps for special needs kids and for the inaugural girls’ season, the Free Market from the Green Team, the DWC’s Midday Madness Clue Hunt, and more. It was wonderful to see so many residents and visitors out and about enjoying the events that make our community such a vibrant place.
And don’t miss these upcoming events:
The Friends of Westfield Memorial Library will host its annual book sale Wednesday through Sunday.
On Saturday night, join the Westfield American Legion for their Arts & Music Festival from 6:00 - 10:00 at the Westfield Armory with live music, artisans, food trucks and more. All proceeds go to the rebuilding of the Westfield American Legion Hall, which will include 22 units for homeless veterans, a 3,000 square foot banquet hall for rental, and facilities for the veterans.
On Sunday, the Westfield Mental Health Council will be hosting a day of activities to kick off Mental Health Awareness Month – starting with the Walk for CAKE in Mindowaskin Park from 10:30 AM - 12:00 PM, and a Mental Health Fair to be held across the street at the Bauer Branch of the Westfield Area YMCA, 422 East Broad St., from 11:00 AM - 2:00 PM.
For all of the photographers in the community, the Public Arts Commission looks forward to reviewing the submissions for the Third Annual Through the Lens Photography Exhibit. This year’s theme is movement, and submissions are due by April 30 on our website.
Tonight, we have a number of legislative items on the agenda. Importantly, we will vote on the adoption of the municipal budget and the SID budget. We will also vote on a resolution to approve a place-to-place liquor license transfer from the Liquor Basket location to the new House of Wine location on North Avenue, which has been approved by the NJ State ABC. We anticipate the House of Wine to open on Mother’s Day.
Historic Preservation Ordinances
I’m happy to report that we have lots of great things happening on the historic preservation front. To kick off Historic Preservation Month in May, tonight we will be introducing ordinances on first reading to historically designate three homes in Stoneleigh Park. I’d like to thank these homeowners – Marielyce Watner of 3 Stoneleigh Park, Aaron and Donna Keith of 5 Stoneleigh Park, and Donald Furrer and Katherine Spikes of 18 Stoneleigh Park – for voluntarily designating their homes. This will bring our total number of properties designated under this administration to 13 – the most in Town history.
You may recall that when we updated the historic preservation ordinance in 2020, some expressed concerns that the Town would begin involuntarily designating private historic homes. In fact, what we’ve found is that the ordinance has had quite the opposite – and originally intended – effect. When we adopted this ordinance, over some very vocal objections, the Town was making a public statement that this administration, and our community, value historic preservation. In absence of that, why would a homeowner choose to designate their home? To make sure we “walked the walk,” the Town also designated some of our own properties, such as Triangle Park and the Reeve House. These important steps were necessary to establish a community culture that prioritizes historic preservation, and tonight’s designations are proof that they’re bearing fruit. Homeowners are now willingly and voluntarily designating their homes, leaving a lasting legacy that will forever preserve these amazing pieces of Westfield’s treasured history.
We are also introducing updates to the historic preservation ordinance which reflects input from the State Historic Preservation Office to enable our Historic Preservation Commission to qualify for Certified Local Government status. Additional updates include clarification of the role of the HPC relative to other governing bodies, such as the Town Council and Planning and Zoning Boards, which was not explicit in the original ordinance. This ordinance will be forwarded to the Planning Board for their review and comment.
Master Plan Implementation Ordinances
We’re also introducing a number of ordinances on first reading out of the Code Review & Town Property Committee that update various definitions and recommendations from our Master Plan Reexamination, which is a continuous process we undergo to ensure consistency with that document and with established standards and best practices in other communities.
[Remarks by Councilman Parmelee, Chair of the Code Review & Town Property Committee]:
The first three of these ordinances amend the Land Use Ordinance with revisions to definitions found in our Land Use Ordinance based upon recommendations from the Master Plan Reexamination for the following terms: bay window, building eave height, and swimming pool.
There are also ordinances on first reading revising permitted conditional uses, retaining wall provisions, and design standards. These ordinances will be forwarded to the Planning Board for their review and comment.
Finally, we’ll introduce an amended Stormwater and Floodplain Management ordinance, which is being required by the State of New Jersey for all municipalities after the NJDEP’s model ordinances and subsequent local Flood Damage Prevention ordinances were audited and found to be inconsistent with National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) regulations. The new ordinance provides for better coordination between NFIP, NJ Flood Hazard Area Control Act (FHACA), and Uniform Construction Code (UCC) regulations. It is also more specific to riverine flooding, and allows communities to utilize Best Available Data to regulate floodplains. The new ordinance also provides for higher fines for non-compliance.
With that, let’s get to work.