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Paul J. Peyton for The Westfield Leader and The Times TAKING THE PLEDGE... Republican Seventh District Congressional candidate Michael Ferguson, left, reviews signatures on a “clean campaign pledge” he initiated at last week’s campaign GOP forum held in Scotch Plains. Looking on are candidates Tom Kean, Jr. of Westfield, center, and Eric Urbano of Scotch Plains. The pledge was signed by five of the seven Republican candidates.
Fanwood Planning Board Denies Dunkin’ Donuts’ Appeal for Sign By SUZETTE F. STALKER
Specially Written forr The Westfield Leader and The Times
FANWOOD – Determining it would detract from the character of the downtown, Fanwood’s Planning Board on February 23 denied an appeal by the owner of a Dunkin’ Donuts franchise at South and Martine Avenues to erect a freestanding identification sign.
Dipak Patel of Morristown, whose application hearing before the board began on January 26, had initially sought bulk variances for a 12.8foot pylon sign with an area measuring 39.42 square feet, to be located on a grassy island between the business’s two driveways.
Mr. Patel required variances from the board because the Borough Code stipulates such signs be no higher than eight feet from the ground, with an area not to exceed 16 square feet.
When they returned before the board last week, Mr. Patel’s attorney, John Wiley, revealed that his client had abandoned his request for a height variance and was willing to install a smaller sign measuring 23.63 square feet. Mr. Wiley described this model as the smallest sign that is manufactured for Dunkin’ Donuts.
Mr. Patel, represented during most of the twopart hearing by Mr. Wiley and architect Subhash Sapra, claimed the proposed sign would improve safety by giving motorists greater reaction time in either direction along Martine Avenue before pulling into the franchise lot. A sign already exists on the South Avenue facade of the building.
Mr. Sapra, who designed the site plan for the project, testified in January that the business was not visible to southbound commuters on Martine until they cleared the top of the railroad overpass, or to northbound motorists
until they were approximately two car lengths from the intersection due to commercial buildings lining the street.
Throughout the hearing, board members remained concerned about the proposed height, area and overall impact of the sign, which was to be externally illuminated by floodlights. Mr. Sapra said at the outset of the hearing that the illumination would be confined to the sign area.
Noting the revised sign area was still some 50 percent larger than what is permitted under the Borough Code, board members voiced concern that the structure would conflict with longrange plans for the downtown, including the incorporation of a Victorian theme, and suggested another type of sign might conform more aesthetically to the surrounding area.
Board member Cynthia Swindlehurst commented that the proposed sign would occupy “considerably more surface” than the recentlyinstalled Millennium Clock located directly opposite the business on Martine Avenue.
“We’ve really been restricting the signs we’ve been allowing,” Ms. Swindlehurst observed, noting that in the four weeks since the hearing opened she had seen “all different kinds of signs” identifying Dunkin’ Donuts franchises in the area.
In January and again last week, board members suggested alternatives such as a sign mounted on the Martine side of the building or a separate wooden sign. Mr. Sapra contended that “the effect would be very minimal” using these options.
Board members rebuffed Mr. Patel’s argument that the sign would play an important safety role at the intersection, maintaining the applicant’s principal motivation was to increase business for the franchise with additional advertising.
Chairman Gregory Cummings said a report presented by Fanwood Police Chief Robert Carboy during the first part of the hearing indeicated there was not a safety problem at the site. Of the
21 accidents which have occurred at that intersection over the past three years, only two involved people accessing the Dunkin’ Donuts property. Both incidents took place in 1997.
Mr. Cummings additionally proffered that the proposed sign could actually compromise safety by posing a distraction for motorists at the intersection.
Speculating the safety issue was “a red herring” to disguise the applicant’s commercial interests, Council President and board Liaison Joel Whitaker added that he did not believe the sign would economically benefit the business because it would not be visible to motorists until they were fairly close to the intersection.
He proposed that a larger version of the existing entrance sign or a building sign facing Martine would be visible from a greater distance and therefore be more effective.
Under questioning by Mr. Whitaker, Mr. Wiley conceded that increased business is “obviously one of the incentives of any merchant.” He noted that greater business would increase the property’s value as a tax ratable, but claimed “the safety aspects are also compelling because people will notice it (the building) earlier.”
Prior to their unanimous 81 vote denying the application, board members concluded that the proposed pylon sign would have a negative effect on the overall ambiance of the downtown, especially because of its proximity to the Victorian motif clock.
Board member Brenda Steinberg said it would not be beneficial to the downtown “if Dunkin’ Donuts is the most wellmarked building in Fanwood.”
“We certainly want our businesses to be successful, and one of the ways we can assist them in being successful is to make a vibrant downtown,” Mr. Cummings concurred.
He said he believed this type of sign “would be a detriment to the entire downtown and I’m not sure it would increase business at the Dunkin’ Donuts.”
Revamped TV36 Expected to Begin Operation From Municipal Building By This Spring
GOP Candidates Pledge Clean Primary Campaign
By PAUL J. PEYTON
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader and The Times
WESTFIELD — New Westfield Town Administrator Thomas P. Shannon announced Tuesday night that he anticipates the town’s revamped community television station, TV36, will be up and running within two months.
The council approved an ordinance last year to form an 11member television advisory board to regulate operation of the station. The station will now be known as Westfield Community Television, or WCTV.
Mr. Shannon said the station operations will be relocated from Westfield High School to a section of space in the Municipal Building occupied by the Westfield Historical Society.
“Once we are into spring I think it will be happening,” Mr. Shannon stated.
The administrator said the new location will enable the station to operate for 24 hours.
“It is definitely a better setup,” Mr. Shannon told the council.
In addition to equipment on the second floor of the building, camera equipment and related equipment will be needed to televise council meetings and other events from the Town Council Chambers on the first floor of the building.
Meetings have been televised for the past few months through the efforts of volunteer Phil Falcone, a member of the TV advisory board.
Mr. Shannon suggested that the council might want to add a telephone line or provide for email “to create interactive opportunities” for residents to participate in council meetings other than attending them in person.
Scotch Plains’ governing body allows residents to call in during the portion of its meetings which are televised live by the township’s cable station.
Roughly $25,000 in equipment will be needed to bring the Westfield station online. Comcast, per its 15year contract to utilize the town’s rightofway, provides a $50,000 annual allocation to the town. Mr. Shannon said all but $15,000 of the equipment has been funded.
He said he is reviewing the current budget accounts to find available funding. The equipment could be placed in the capital section of the municipal budget.
“Anyway, I don’t think money will be a hindrance,” Mr. Shannon explained.
A Director of Operations must also be hired for the station. Mr. Shannon described the position as a “serious parttime job.” The advisory board will make a recommendation to the council in that regard.
On another matter, the council considered language for a resolution supporting pending state legislation to require all handguns sold in New Jersey to contain childproof trigger locks.
The legislation comes on the heels of an incident on Monday in which a first grader in Michigan shot and killed a classmate.
Second Ward Councilman Matthew P. Albano sought the council’s support for the state legislation – Senate Bill no. 1711 and Assembly Bill no. 2828.
“Personally, I think it is something we should support,” he said. “Something has to be done.”
The council is also expected to support a resolution from a number of New Jersey mayors appealing to Governor Christine Todd Whitman and the State Legislature to restore $328 million in municipal aid that would have been received by towns in prior years, to keep up with the rate of inflation since
1994. Westfield received aid of $4,086,661 this year, an amount that is 23.79 percent below the rate the town would have received if inflation had been calculated in the rate, according to information from the New Jersey League of Municipalities.
The League estimated that Westfield lost aid over the past six years in the amount of $1,275,534.
On another matter, Republicans on the council asked Mayor Thomas C. Jardim to reconsider his proposed appointment of former councilman John J. Walsh to the Recreation Commission. Mr. Walsh had served the past three years as council liaison to the Commission. The Mayor proposed Mr.
Walsh’s name to replace Sal Antonelli, who was not reappointed by the council.
Since January, Westfield’s Recreation Commission has been short a member and a chairman. Seymour Koslowsky has been serving as Chairman on a monthtomonth basis of the 11member board.
Fourth Ward Councilwoman Janis Fried Weinstein has asked that former Westfield Board of Education member Keith Hertell, who has a long history of coaching soccer in town, be considered to fill the vacancy. He is currently varsity girls soccer coach at Livingston High School.
Although the Commission seat is a mayoral appointment, council consent is required.
By PAUL J. PEYTON
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader and The Times
Five of the seven Republican candidates seeking the GOP nomination for the Seventh Congressional District seat in the Tuesday, June 6 Primary race, have signed a pledge not to use negative campaign tactics for the remaining three months of the campaign.
The pledge was signed by Mike Ferguson of Warren, Tom Kean, Jr. of Westfield, Patricia Walsh of Green Brook, Eric Urbano of Scotch Plains and Joel Weingarten of Millburn. Patrick Morrisey released his own pledge yesterday.
The “clean campaign pledge” was developed by candidate Mike Ferguson’s campaign. Mr. Ferguson announced the pledge during a joint campaign forum sponsored last week by the Scotch Plains and Fanwood Republican committees held in Scotch Plains.
The pledge reads as follows: “The candidates for the Republican nomination for the Seventh Congressional District pledge not to commit the following: make personal attacks against a candidate or their family, use black and white grainy or distorted photos of an opponent, distort the truth regarding a candidate’s background, use of push
polls, send anonymous fliers or use surrogates or third parties to make attacks. The pledge is voided if one or more candidate’s breaks the agreement.”
Mr. Ferguson later explained to The Westfield Leader and The Times of Scotch PlainsFanwood that the pledge is the result of an anonymous letter that had been circulated in the district against Mr. Kean.
“I’m concerned that this race does not turn negative,” Mr. Ferguson said. “I think we need to keep this discussion on a higher plain.”
Mr. Kean told The Leader and The Times that a negative campaign piece mailed to Republicans in December contained a copy of his resumé, on the back of which was written “lies and distortions.” Mr. Kean said, in the end, this piece backfired as people had a chance to study his employment and education background before he officially declared himself as a candidate.
Mr. Kean said he is “very frustrated” that the political process has come to a point where candidates have to sign a pledge to stop negative campaigning, especially in their own party’s primary. He said literature such as the one against him only “tear down” a candidate and
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Covering Fanwood, Mountainside, Scotch Plains and Westfield, Union County, New Jersey (NJ)