Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Multifamily Projects Get Boost

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Multifamily Projects Get Boost

Article excerpt

RIDGEWOOD -- Developers were all smiles as they left Tuesday night's meeting of the Planning Board, which approved four separate amendments to the village's master plan, paving the way for high- density, multifamily housing projects downtown.

Several residents walked out of Tuesday night's meeting when the closing comments by members of the board made it clear even before the vote that the panel would be moving to advance the proposed zoning changes.

The four master plan changes were approved by majority vote; Wendy Dockray, a real estate agent, was the only member to oppose all four amendments. Both Susan Knudsen, a Ridgewood councilwoman who sits on the board, and Michele Peters, an attorney, opposed three of the amendments.

All three women said that a vote Tuesday night would be premature, calling for more discussion of the amendments.

The vote capped five years of meetings, public hearings and expert testimony on the master plan amendments, first requested by four developers with plans for four different housing complexes.

One developer has since backed out, leaving three housing projects planned with a combined 208 apartment units.

Ahead of Tuesday's vote, several residents spoke out against the master plan changes.

One resident, Scott Vandenbosch, argued that the proposed developments would increase traffic throughout the village while straining the town's infrastructure.

"This decision will have long-lasting effects," Vandenbosch said before suggesting to the board that only the three developers would benefit from the amendments, with "the people of Ridgewood facing all the downside."

Another resident, Gary Negrycz, told the board Tuesday night that the three intended housing complexes would overburden the village's school system, leading to added education costs for Ridgewood taxpayers.

Noting previous testimony from the developers' experts that the three projects would result in an overall increase in school enrollment of only 15 students, Negrycz suggested the board consider a caveat for its approval.

"Ask the developers to give us $25,000 a year" -- the annual cost to educate a Ridgewood student -- "for any additional children over that 15," Negrycz said. …

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