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Scotch Plains – Fanwood THE TIMES
OUR 40th YEAR – ISSUE NO. 13-99 Published Every Thursday USPS 485200
Periodical – Postage Paid at Scotch Plains, N.J. Thursday, April 1, 1999
of of of of of
— Serving Scotch Plains and Fanwood Since 1959 —
INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX
Business ........ Page 17 County .......... Page 2 Editorial ........ Page 4
Obituary ........ Page 11 Religious ....... Page 10
Social ............ Page 6 Sports ............ Page 13
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Scotch Plains Zoning Board Denies Magnolia Gardens Application for 95-Bed Nursing Facility on Martine Avenue
CONTINUED ON PAGE 12 CONTINUED ON PAGE 12
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By DEBORAH MADISON
Specially Written for The Times
The application to build Magnolia Gardens, a 58,000-square-foot, 95- bed assisted living care and nursing home facility, on the two lots adja- cent to the YMCA on Martine Av- enue in Scotch Plains, was denied by a unanimous vote of the Board of Adjustments.
A packed courtroom of residents from the neighborhood of the pro- posed site cheered as the board reached its decision at the conclusion of the third special meeting held on March 24, which ran until 1:30 a.m. the next morning.
The applicant's lawyer, William Butler, began the meeting by turning over $18,500 in escrow fees to the township for expenses incurred by the Board regarding the application. Mr. Butler then called on Joseph Martin, of Martin Appraisal Associ- ates, as an expert witness to testify regarding the impact that the pro- posed facility would have on the value of homes in the neighborhood.
In preparation for this testimony, Mr. Martin stated that he had pe- rused the neighborhood of the pro- posed site and talked to the township's tax assessor as well as real estate agents in the area. He also stated that he had visited several nursing homes and assisted living care facilities in neighboring towns in order to assess the impact that these facilities had on the value of homes in those areas.
According to Mr. Martin, none of the residents who owned homes in close proximity to facilities of this type felt that the presence of a large facility negatively impacted on the market value of their homes. Fur- thermore, the real estate agents and tax assessors that Mr. Martin spoke with corroborated this belief.
However, due to assisted living care facilities being new to the mar- ket, Mr. Martin added that there was not enough comparison data regard- ing sales of homes near assisted liv- ing facilities to draw any empirical conclusions or to make a compara- tive sales analysis.
In other words, although homes near large facilities do not seem to lose appraised value, according to the opinions of real estate agents, there were no exact figures to prove that they could be sold for their mar- ket value.
Mr. Martin conceded that in as- sessing a home's worth many factors
are taken into consideration includ- ing emotional preferences of pro- spective buyers. After rigorous cross- examination by all of the board mem- bers, Mr. Martin finally agreed that some buyers might be put off by the presence of a large facility, but that in his opinion, most would not be.
Frequently, during Mr. Martin's testimony, Mr. Butler requested that Board attorney Anthony Rinaldo, Jr. admonish the audience for vocaliz- ing their disapproval of Mr. Martin's seemingly conflicting answers.
Many Board members questioned Mr. Martin as to the incremental effects that another large facility
School Budget of $44,551,453 Gets OK from School Board Members By SUSAN M. DYCKMAN
Specially Written for The Times
The Scotch Plains-Fanwood Board of Education approved a $44,551,453 budget for the 1999-2000 school year following a public hearing Monday. The budget reflects an $822,403, or 1.88 percent, increase over the 1998- 1999 spending plan.
On Tuesday, April 20, voters in Scotch Plains and Fanwood will be asked to approve a general fund tax levy of $39,401,685, which is up 2.99 percent over last year. Scotch Plains' taxpayers bear 78.2 percent of the tax levy as determined by a state formula, compared to 21.8 per- cent for Fanwood.
If the budget is approved, voters in Fanwood will see a $.06, or 1.54 percent, increase in their tax rate, to $3.96. This equates to an annual
increase of $49.80 on an average assessed home in the borough.
Scotch Plains voters would realize a $.10, or 3.13 percent increase in their tax rate, to $3.29. This trans- lates into an increase of $115 on the average assessed home in the town- ship.
Despite the fact that the 2.99 per- cent increase in the local tax levy is the lowest in four years, the tax in- crease for Scotch Plains is the high- est in six years.
Part of the reason for this, as ex- plained by Board of Education Presi- dent August Ruggiero, is that new ratables for Scotch Plains amounted to just $1 million this year, compared to $10 million in 1998.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Carol B. Choye outlined the $600,000 in program improvements built into
the spending plan. "One of the most exciting things about the proposed budget," said Dr. Choye, "is that it maintains average class sizes" at the elementary level. She confirmed that the average class size for kindergar- ten through second grade is 19 stu- dents.
"It's the best year with elementary class size we've ever had," she ex- plained.
Elementary improvements include: strengthening the art and music pro- grams with additional staff; math- ematics software; a literacy program for grades 1 and 2 that expands the existing Reading Recovery program; a team teaching pilot between regu- lar education and special education teachers; supervisory support for 50 new teachers; new language arts texts, would impose on an already over-
burdened residential neighborhood. Mr. Martin conceded that a facility of this nature would constitute "inten- sified usage" in an otherwise pre- dominantly, residential neighbor- hood.
However, he also explained that the "highest and best use," an eco-
nomic principle denoting greatest profit, was to allow a large facility to be built as opposed to homes of lesser value. When cross-examined, Mr. Martin conceded that the "high- est and best use" would benefit the seller and the buyer, but not neces-
sarily the township. After cross-examination by the board, the audience was given an opportunity to cross-examine Mr. Martin.
Lawrence Paruta, a resident of Graymill Drive, questioned how Mr.
Seven School Board Candidates Vie for Positions; Tell Platforms By SUSAN M. DYCKMAN
Specially Written for The Times
The voices of experience mingle with those of newcomers as seven candidates campaign for three seats on Scotch Plains-Fanwood's Board of Education. The board election will take place Tuesday, April 20.
There are two seats open in Scotch Plains, one in Fanwood.
Incumbent Jessica M. Simpson and Victoria Manduca are vying for the Fanwood seat.
Mrs. Simpson, who resides in the School One area of the borough, seeks election to her second full term on the board. She was first appointed to board service in 1992 to fill a va- cancy.
Mrs. Simpson, a 14-year resident of Fanwood, is a claims representa- tive with the Social Security Admin- istration. Her daughter graduated from Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School (SPFHS); her son is a fresh- man.
"There are many reasons why I'm running for re-election, but my expe- rience in doing the job and my dedi- cation to board work are foremost among them," explained Mrs. Simpson, who calls herself "an ap- proachable, common sense person."
"Secondly, my involvement and advocacy with statewide educational organizations and political leaders allows me to give voice to Scotch Plains-Fanwood concerns, while at the same time influencing state edu- cation policies, which affect our chil- dren directly."
A resident of the Brunner School area of Fanwood, Mrs. Manduca is making her third bid for a board seat,
having run unsuccessfully in 1995 and 1996.
She is an account manager with Viasoft, a computer software firm. She has two sons at SPFHS, and a daughter at Brunner School.
"The mission of a member of the Board of Education is to provide community representation and over- sight to the district administration," stated Mrs. Manduca, who has lived in Scotch Plains for 10 years. "I am a concerned parent committed to providing thoughtful and informed input to the board to improve deci- sion making. I have served on dis- trict committees for assessments and curriculum review and have testi- fied to the state and local boards on many issues of concern to parents and teachers."
In Scotch Plains, the candidates are incumbents Edward J. Saridaki, Jr. and Morris H. "Butch" Gillet, former Board President Dr. Donald E. Sheldon and first-time candidates Dominick Bratti and Ava McNamara.
Mr. Gillet, who lives in the vicinity of Coles School, has served two con-
secutive terms on the board, having first been elected in 1993. A 30-year resident, he is the owner of Essel Paint and Wallpaper Co. of Valley Mall, Gillette. His three sons were educated in Scotch Plains-Fanwood schools.
"I know the community and have a sense of what it desires and needs from its school system," stated Mr. Gillet, who cites his experience in running two businesses as a valuable asset. "I believe I am a good candi- date because I possess the tools to do the job well and because I care enough. I will put forth the full measure of what is needed to keep this district at the forefront of education in this state and still keep the cost to the taxpayer reasonable."
Mr. Saridaki, who is the corporate financial and network controller for Enslow Publishers, Inc. of Spring- field, resides in the Evergreen School area of the township. A 23-year resi- dent, he is concluding his first term
Fanwood Planning Board Approves Day Care Center To Succeed Long-time Pet Business on South Avenue By SUZETTE F. STALKER
Specially Written for The Times
A new private day care center is expected to open soon on the current site of Pets & Their People, located at 133 South Avenue in Fanwood, which is closing its doors after more than 20 years.
Christine Loh of Scotch Plains, a state-licensed child care provider, got the green light March 24 from the Fanwood Planning Board to open The Wonder Years Academy next door to the A&P.
Mrs. Loh, who has a purchase agreement with the owner of Pets & Their People and currently operates a day care program in her home, said she plans to open her newly-approved facility in about five months.
The board's 8 to 1 vote in favor of the center capped a hearing which lasted more than three hours and featured detailed testimony from ex- perts on behalf of the applicant re- garding architectural, engineering and traffic aspects of the planned
facility. During opening discussion of the application on February 24, Mrs. Loh said her business would serve chil- dren from infancy through 4 years old. Grouped by age, the youngsters would be provided with appropriate activities but not an academic pro- gram.
She anticipated her hours of opera- tion would be between 7:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Mrs. Loh said her program would not be run on a timetable, but would be "flexible" in order to ac- commodate the needs of her clien- tele, most of whom she predicted would be working parents.
Although she is licensed to operate a day care facility for 70 children, Mrs. Loh said last week that she plans to enroll no more than 60 at The Wonder Years Academy.
She said she intends to completely renovate the interior of the existing building, including putting down a new floor slab and removing any other fixtures that could possibly con- tain residue from the current busi- ness there. A grassy play area en- closed by a stockade fence will be located at the rear of the property.
Mrs. Loh noted that pick-up and drop-off times would be staggered, limiting the number of cars on the premises. She will have 11 staff mem- bers, but only seven will be on duty simultaneously because, she said, not all the children will be at the center at the same time.
Mrs. Loh last week reiterated her assertion from February that parents, who will utilize a key code linked to a computerized identification system to enter the premises, would be in-
side the facility for no longer than about three minutes.
Although parking provisions are not required for day care centers, The Wonder Years will be equipped with 17 stalls, including seven for staff and 10 for parents to use while drop- ping off and picking up their chil- dren. Handicapped parking will be provided at the rear of the building.
Vehicular traffic, both on the pre- mises and along heavily-traveled South Avenue, was a pivotal issue as board members deliberated the day care center application.
Of primary concern was whether there was sufficient room for cars to back up as they prepared to leave the center lot, as well as possible queu- ing of vehicles along South Avenue as they waited to enter the driveway.
Board members also discussed whether an existing driveway run- ning from the front to the back of the approximately half an acre lot could adequately accommodate two-way traffic, and concerns were also raised
over its close proximity to the A&P driveway.
John Harter of Atlantic Traffic Design Engineers in Watchung, tes- tifying for the applicant, said peak traffic hours for the center would likely be between 7:30 to 9 a.m. and from 4:45 to just after 6 p.m.
He presented a 15-minute segment of a videotape he had made that morning showing the driveway to Kinderprep, a day care facility on South Avenue in Westfield, to sup- port his argument that such busi- nesses do not generate a large hourly traffic volume.
Mrs. Loh, who said she consulted with Kinderprep as her own applica- tion progressed, described the Westfield establishment as very simi- lar to her own planned facility in terms of enrollment capacity, hours of operation and traffic patterns.
Mr. Harter's video showed nine cars entering and 11 exiting Kinderprep during the 15-minute
CONTINUED ON PAGE 12
William A. Burke for The Times
IT'S THE EASTER BUNNY!...Laura Burns, otherwise known as the Easter Bunny, is joined by, left to right, Michael Vilarino, Patrick Decker and Kayley Decker during last Saturday's Easter Egg Hunt on the Village Green in Scotch Plains.
William A. Burke for The Times
THE ART OF EGG COLORING...These youngsters demonstrate the art of egg coloring during Scotch Plains' annual Easter Egg Hunt held March 27 on the Village Green.
CONTINUED ON PAGE 12
Mayor Says GOP Budget Proposal Would Harm Town's Bond Rating
By FRED ROSSI
Specially Written for The Times
Democratic Mayor Geri M. Samuel says the Republicans' proposed al- ternative budget would harm Scotch Plains' AA bond rating. Republi- cans, meanwhile, report receiving strong opposition to the six-point tax increase proposed last week by the Democratic-led Township Council.
After the $16.7 million budget for 1999 was introduced nine days ago, the two Republicans on the Town- ship Council, William J. McClintock, Jr., and Martin Marks, then put forth their own budget proposal, which calls for using what they said was a record $3.05 million surplus, rather than a boost in taxes, to cover the $1 million-plus increase in appropria- tions.
Besides disputing the $3 million surplus figure, the Mayor told The Times on Tuesday that part of what she estimated was actually a $2.4 million surplus was used to offset some of the planned rise in expendi- tures. The hike in local taxes, she said, "would have been 10 percent" if a portion of the surplus had not been used.
"If we use any more [of the sur- plus], we'll be below what's appro- priate for our AA bond rating," she said. "We don't want to do that."
Mayor Samuel added that "we can't do" what the Republicans are pro- posing, because doing so "would take
us down to a $1.1 million surplus." She pointed out that, in order to maintain a AA bond rating, Scotch Plains needs to have a surplus be- tween $1.8 million-$2.2 million.
In addition, she pointed out, the surplus total is not only for the mu- nicipal budget, but for the school and county budgets, as well.
The Mayor told The Times she has not heard any reaction—positive or negative—from citizens in the week since it was introduced.
"I've been out and seen people and talked to people, but no one's asked me about it," she said. She added that the two other Democrats on the Coun- cil, Tarquin Bromley and Franklin Donatelli, have reported to her that they, too, hadn't heard much on the budget from residents.
She refused to comment on the possibility of any kind of compro- mise, pointing out that the public hearing on the budget will take place
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FANWOOD POLICE BLOTTER
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Martin could deny that prospective homebuyers would not object to a large facility near their home, when there was a roomful of homeowners present at this meeting who obviously objected.
After cross-examination, Board Vice Chairman, Thomas Barth, asked if any- one in the audience would like to give testimony in support of the proposed site. No one in the audience came forward. Many audience members gave their tes- timony and statements regarding how they believed the proposed application, if approved, would negatively impact on the quality of life in their neighborhood.
Kathleen Niemczyk, a resident of Martine Avenue, who lives directly across the street from the "Y," asked Mr. Martin to imagine what she experi- ences when she looks out from her home to see the sun glaring off of numerous car windshields, the intensified traffic congestion and the added noise of a large facility, and how all of these an- noyances would be intensified should the proposed facility be approved.
George Tomkin, a resident of Brandywine Court and Chairman of the Scotch Plains Planning Board, testified that his home's value was re-assessed and his taxes lowered due to his home's location in back of the YMCA facility, as evidence that the presence of a large facility does impact negatively on a home's appraised value.
Mr. Martin denied that Mr. Tomkin's re-assessment had any relevance to the issues at hand.
Mr. Tomkin presented a police report to the board, detailing the car accidents over the past three years at the corner of Martine Avenue and Broad Street as further evidence that the area was al- ready overly congested.
Similarly, David Bard, a resident of Peach Court, testified that he negotiated with his builder to lower the purchase price of his home due to being in close proximity to a large facility. Mr. Bard expressed the sentiments of many of those present when he pointed out that just because several other facilities had been inappropriately placed in the neigh- borhood, this was not justification to continue making that mistake.
Many residents gathered evidence that there were numerous beds available at nursing home facilities in neighboring towns to show that the certificate of need granted the applicant was unnec- essary. Several residents also testified that they visited local area nursing homes in order to assess parking and traffic volumes.
The ratios that they calculated sup- ported their claims that the proposed site plans were inadequate to support a facility of this size.
Gene Berger, a resident of Fenimore Drive, testified that there was a better than 50 percent probability that a nurs- ing home would become bankrupt, even- tually leaving the abandoned building as a burden on the community.
Keith Gilman, a resident of Brandywine Court, contacted the New Jersey Department of Health of Senior Services regarding the applicant's cer- tificate of need. Mr. Gilman testified that assisted living care certificates that were recently issued, such as this one, were issued on an expedited basis, were not need-based, and were being reviewed because of a possible excess of issu- ance.
Mr. Gilman also testified that the wooded area of wetlands, behind the proposed facility, were dwindling in recent years due to the owners removing many of the trees, and that the buffer was insufficient to shield his home from the proposed site.
Mr. Butler offered into evidence two aerial photos that showed very plush overgrowth of treetops completely ob- structing a view of Mr. Gilman's home from the YMCA and adjacent lots.
Mr. Gilman contended that this was an inaccurate vantage point as he was not in the habit of living above the treetops, and that from his bedroom
Adjustments Board Denies Magnolia Gardens Proposal
window, the woods were insufficient to buffer his property.
He also pointed out that the photos were inaccurate because they were taken in 1997, before the trees were removed.
Another resident, Charles Anastasiou, a resident of Brandywine Court, further emphasized Mr. Gilman's testimony by pointing out that the treetops were at a height of 75 feet while the proposed facility was 35 feet high, level with Mr. Gilman's bedroom windows.
Several other residents of Fenimore Drive also agreed that there were insuf- ficient woods to buffer the intrusion of the site's glare from their property.
Craig Gulffre, a resident of Rambling Drive and President of the Sterling Chase Homeowners Association, went on record to state that the members of his association were all opposed to the pro- posed site plan.
Other concerns consistently re-iter- ated by residents were fire safety issues, traffic congestion, parking spillage and noise, all contributing to a deterioration of the quality of life in the neighbor- hood. Many residents wanted to empha- size that they were not against the need for assisted living facilities, but that they were against imposing this out-of- character facility into a residential neigh- borhood.
A former Mayor of Scotch Plains, Gabe Spera, applauded the audience for their civic concerns. He stated that he, too, was concerned for the character of the neighborhood and the erosion of the quality of life that this facility imposed.
Mr. Spera stated to the board that residents in Scotch Plains pay higher taxes for a right to a certain quality of life. When he emphatically implored the applicant to get out of town with this self-serving, for-profit scheme, the au- dience erupted in applause.
Susan Kimball, the Board's profes- sional planner, Harold Maltz, the board's professional traffic expert, and Paul Ferraro, the Board's engineering pro- fessional summarized the entire appli- cation and all of the considerations that the board must take into account when making their final determination.
Ms. Kimball reminded the Board that "preserving the character" of the sur- rounding neighborhood is a goal in the township's Master Plan. In her profes- sional opinion, other sites were better suited for a facility of this scale.
Other serious concerns voiced by the board's professionals were traffic vol- ume inaccuracies, traffic flow problems, inadequate emergency-vehicle access, cooling towers and generators inappro- priately placed, drainage compromising the integrity of the wetlands and inad- equate land-to-building ratios.
Timothy Livolsi, a member of the board, stated that the "conspicuous ab- sence of the applicant" throughout the proceedings was a slap in the face to the board and the community, as well as leaving many problematic questions un- answered.
Paulette Coronato, also a board mem- ber, stated that although the presence of the applicant was not required, it would have given the board an oppor- tunity to better assess what the applicant's intent was. As a result, the board had to rely on the testimony of paid experts whose opinions were not always based on facts regarding this specific site, but rather non-empirical opinions and conjecture.
In the end, the board concluded that the applicant had failed to show how this site plan would be of "inherently beneficial use" to the Township of Scotch Plains.
The board voted unanimously to deny the special use variance, making a vote on the site plan unnecessary.
Mr. Butler could not be reached to determine if the applicant will seek an appeal of the denial in a court of law. When questioned, members of the board felt confident that any court judge would uphold the denial if the applicant should seek an appeal.
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1
and complete classroom Internet access. The lion's share of these improve- ments, $115,000, is dedicated to the read- ing and language arts curriculum.
At the middle school level, the world language program will expand to five days a week in seventh grade. New texts will be purchased for world language; sixth- and eighth-grade mathematics; eighth-grade science; language arts, and sixth- through eighth-grade health.
Other improvements include a third Internet lab at Park and Terrill Middle Schools; expansion of the sixth-grade music program; an after-school volun- tary Grade Eight Performance Assess- ment (GEPA) preparatory course, and seventh- and eighth-grade boys and girls' soccer and basketball teams at Park and Terrill.
The budget also provides for algebra for all eighth-grade students, a general music program for sixth graders; and a modified eighth-grade elective program.
Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School will add a first-year Spanish teacher, an additional special education team teacher, new mathematics texts, another Internet lab, an after-school High School Profi- ciency Assessment (HSPA) preparatory course, new fitness room equipment, and a sophomore football team.
The budget also includes an Advanced Placement Art History course, an expanded Living with Children program and an additional assistant track coach. Funds for the purchase of new band uniforms and wrestling mats for next year will come from the 1998-1999 budget.
District improvements include an ad- ditional technology assistant; some tech- nology equipment for kindergarten through grade 12; professional develop- ment that will help alleviate the need for teachers to be out of their classes during the school day; instruction/general sup- ply accounts, and other athletic budget increases.
The budget also includes $22,000 in funding for services provided to the dis- trict by the Resolve Community Coun- seling Center – an expenditure previ-
Board of Education Gives School Budget Green Light
ously funded by a local grant. Mr. Ruggiero reminded the public that taxpayers fund 89.6 percent of the bud- get, with state and Federal funding con- tributing just 9.5 percent.
The board President reiterated that 80 percent of the $44,551,453 spending plan is devoted to salaries ($30,216,231) and benefits ($5,105,500).
Non-instructional elements of the budget include transportation ($1,144,760 — down .06 percent from 1998-1999); tuition ($2,226,782 — down 1.04 percent from 1998-1999); operation of maintenance and plant services ($1,744,463 — up .63 percent over last year); other ($2,551,147 — up 2.14 percent over 1998-1999); state and Federal programs ($1,056,812 — down 24.6 percent from last year), and debt service ($505,758 — down 3.15 percent from 1998-1999).
The board voted unanimously to ap- prove the 1999-2000 budget as presented, but not before board member Richard Meade proposed an amendment to in- crease the spending plan by $200,000.
Suggesting that the proposed budget was "penny-wise, but pound foolish," Mr. Meade recommended building in funds for a social studies supervisor and additional teaching positions should the need arise as the district firms up its enrollment figures for September.
Mr. Meade went on to say that, if additional teachers were not needed, those funds should be used to begin rebuilding the district's cash reserves. "It is our fiscal responsibility to begin the process of building up the free balance," he stated, "if we don't otherwise need the money."
While several of his colleagues "philo- sophically" supported Mr. Meade, only board member Jean McAllister voted in favor of the amendment.
Mr. Ruggiero suggested the district's physical plant needs might require a bond referendum later this year, which would "necessitate asking taxpayers for more money." He identified the need for significant renovations at Park Middle School, and for an elevator at Terrill.
SCOTCH PLAINS POLICE BLOTTER MONDAY, MARCH 22
· Irving Vanderveer, 37, of Scotch Plains was arrested for possession of stolen property, a snow blower that was taken from a burglary reported Novem- ber 23, on Jerusalem Road. Vanderveer was remanded to the Union County Jail in lieu of $2,500 bail set by Judge Joseph Perfilio, Scotch Plains Municipal Court.
THURSDAY, MARCH 25
· A Route 22 car rental business re- ported a locked punched out of a rental vehicle that was parked in the lot.
· A Country Club Lane resident re- ported that a front courtyard window was smashed and the bedroom ransacked. Jewelry was reported taken. The inci- dent occurred some time during the day.
FRIDAY, MARCH 26
· Lamar Brooks, 19, of Plainfield, was arrested and charged with shoplift- ing while working as an employee at a pharmacy on Park Avenue.
· A student at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School reported the theft of sneak-
ers from the locker room.
SATURDAY, MARCH 27
· Officers discovered a broken win- dow at a home on Jersey Avenue. The residents were not at home. It was does not appear that the house was entered.
· A resident of Elizabeth Avenue re- ported a window to the house was bro- ken. The resident believed entry was gained. There is an investigation as to what, if anything, was taken.
SUNDAY, MARCH 28
· Michael Wiggins, 18, of Plainfield was arrested and charged with posses- sion of alcohol under the legal age pursu- ant to an investigation by an officer. The incident occurred on South Avenue.
· A resident of Portland Avenue re- ported someone attempted entry to his vehicle while parked in the driveway.
· A resident of Jackson Avenue re- ported someone damaged a row of flood- lights in the front of the residence.
span, though the trips were evenly spread out over the length of the excerpt. There were points at which no traffic move- ments were visible in or out of the center, and no queuing problems were evident.
The traffic expert, who said he filmed the driveway from 7:30 to 9:05 a.m., reported 31 trips occurred at the Westfield facility between 8:15 and 9:15 a.m. Mr. Harter, who said he also videotaped the driveway during the evening rush hour period two days earlier, did not report any problems then either.
He characterized the 31 trips he counted during the morning video as typical for a day care facility, according to guidelines established by the Insti- tute for Traffic Engineers. Mr. Harter defined "trips" as each time a car either entered or exited the driveway, as op- posed to the total number of cars travel- ing to the site.
In response to questions from Fanwood attorney Joseph DiRienzo, Sr., representing the applicant, Mr. Harter projected the driveway would be suffi- cient for two-way traffic, and supplied photographs to the board showing how two cars could safely pass one another in the roughly 18-foot-wide driveway while traveling at a low speed.
He also maintained that parents com- ing to the center twice a day, several times a week, would quickly become familiar with traffic circulation at the site. In addition, he said any vehicles waiting to enter the lot would be on the shoulder of the road, and that parking is also permitted on South Avenue.
After extensive discussion over whether sidewalks at the center were a necessity, board members ultimately con- curred with Mrs. Loh's representatives that an absence of sidewalks would not pose a safety hazard.
Councilman Joel Whitaker, who sits on the Planning Board, stated that there has never been any problems due to a lack of sidewalks leading to the access ways at St. Paul's Day School in Westfield, which his daughters attend.
Board member Cynthia Swindlehurst, who cast the lone dissenting vote against the application, said she felt there should be a sidewalk area for parents escorting their young children to and from the building.
As a condition of approval, the board requested that the applicant have strip- ing placed along the front parking lot as an indicator of where people should walk and to prohibit parking in that area.
Early on in the hearing, Somerville architect Jay Perantoni, who designed the specifications for the center, gave an
Fanwood Planning Board Approves Day Care Facility
overview of planned safety features for the building. The center, which will have a 71-inch wide, handicapped-accessible corridor, will also be equipped with a full smoke and fire alarm system in accor- dance with standards set forth by the Division of Youth and Family Services, which governs such facilities.
Board members heard testimony from Charles Price, the owner of Pets & Their People, who said his property has been for sale for three years. Mr. Price, who is planning to retire, revealed he had re- ceived various inquiries from would-be buyers interested in the lot for a ware- house, an automotive business, storage and as a center for troubled youth.
Describing the future day care facil- ity as a worthy successor to his own business and an asset to the community, he told the board that "a vote for (The Wonder Years Academy) is a vote for Fanwood."
James Fawcett, the realtor handling the transaction for Mr. Price, maintained the day care center would also have a positive impact on property values by attracting home buyers to the borough. "By improving the amenities in a town, you increase the demand in that town," he observed.
Based on his own experience in the real estate field, Mr. Fawcett said one of the main things families consider when looking at a community is its day care options. He also predicted the center would give Fanwood's downtown a boost by generating patronage of other area businesses.
Despite lingering concerns over traffic and parking, board members expressed their belief that the day care facility represented a welcome addition to the community, as well as meeting an exist- ing need. Board Chairman Gregory Cummings commended Mrs. Loh on "ad- dressing the safety and parking issues as best as can be accomplished."
Several conditions were attached to the board's approval, however. In addi- tion to striping the front lot, these in- cluded curb stops for parking stalls, a maximum enrollment of 60 children; switching the roof drains from the sides to the front and back of the building to ensure greater driveway width; creation of a K-turn area and identification for staff parking stalls.
The board also asked that a stall close to the building be designated for a com- pact car, and that concave mirrors be placed on the building corners nearest the driveway to allow clients using the driveway to see cars coming in the oppo- site direction.
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on the board. His daughter attends SPFHS; his son is a student at Park Middle School.
Citing his proven "honesty, integrity and ability to articulate intelligently his point of view" as a board member, Mr. Saridaki outlined his strengths. "First and foremost is my passion for children. The majority of my life, professional as well as personal, is devoted to enhancing the lives of children," he said. "The second quality is my professional back- ground. I am the only current board mem- ber and the only candidate with exten- sive financial and accounting manage- ment experience. Thirdly, I strive to be very open-minded and actively seek the opinions of others."
Dr. Sheldon, who lost his bid for re- election in 1998, had been a member of the board for six consecutive years, serv- ing as president for five. Dr. Sheldon resides in the Evergreen School area. He served Scotch Plains-Fanwood schools for 25 years as director of guidance and director of special services. His four chil- dren graduated from SPFHS.
The 30-year resident said his background as a professional educator, parent and leader in community and professional organiza- tions "is unique among both current and prospective members of the board."
"I have a deep personal commitment to education, particularly public education as a vital cornerstone in the successful lifelong development of one's personal and professional life," he stated. "I have the time and energy necessary to devote to board activities, and the education and experience to understand and deal objec- tively with issues at hand."
BOE Candidates Reveal Platforms; Seek Seats
Mr. Bratti, who lives near Coles School, is a principal with the law firm of Grotta, Glassman & Hoffman, P.A. in Roseland. The seven-year resident has a 16-month- old son.
"I have been a labor and employment lawyer for 12 years," said Mr. Bratti, "with a lot of experience negotiating con- tracts and disputes and personnel-related issues." He indicated that the experience he has gained on the board and Finance Committee of the Newark-based Youth Consultation Service (a non-profit organi- zation that operates residences and schools for needy children) could benefit the school board.
"I am familiar with budgeting and the concerns associated with school-type is- sues," he explained. "We've also pur- chased and renovated buildings; I have experience with overcrowding."
Ms. McNamara is a 30-year resident who lives in the McGinn School area.
She is the mother of three sons who attend Brunner and McGinn Schools.
"As a self-employed businessperson, who both lives and works and has children in our system, I will be accessible to all residents to voice their concerns and ideas," said Ms. McNamara.
"As a result of both my legal and finan- cial background, I have vast experience in communication with the public and will be an effective advocate for the needs and concerns of the community." She contin- ued: "I recognize the need for fiscal scru- tiny and restraint. I will always seek to achieve maximum efficiency without loss to essential services. If elected, I believe we will have a board that is representative of the community."
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Tuesday, April 27. Addressing a lesser issue, Mayor Samuel said she had no idea why the telephone in the Council's chamber failed to operate at the close of last week's meeting. Several residents reported trying to call into the meet- ing, but without success.
"There were 10 people up there, and 10 pairs of feet" the Mayor said, alluding to the five local high school students sitting with the Council mem- bers on the dais.
"It's possible that someone's foot inadvertently disconnected the phone," the Mayor said, before point- ing out that the phone had been work- ing properly when she checked it earlier.
Councilman McClintock told The Times this week that the Republicans "have gotten a lot of support" for their "no tax increase" budget alter- native. In addition, he said people have told Councilman Marks and him that they were "unhappy with the tax increase the Democrats have put in."
There are three paths the Council can take on the 1999 budget, Mr. McClintock said.
"The Democrats can outvote us; they can join us; or some combina- tion of people can come up with an alternative."
As for the ultimate outcome, he said, "I don't know what's going to happen." He emphasized that the Republicans "have no quarrel with the expense side [of the budget], but think that more of the record $3 million surplus should be used."
Mr. McClintock added that, based on the telephone calls he has re- ceived in the week since the budget was unveiled, he expects the Council's next formal meeting on Tuesday, April 13, to be a "lively" event.
"A number of fairly angry people called us" after the March 23 meet- ing, when the telephone problem pre- vented residents' calls from being answered, he said, and he expects a number of them to attend the next meeting.
GOP Budget Proposal May Harm Town Bond Rating
TUESDAY, MARCH 16
· James Lahey, 32, of Fanwood was arrested and charged with possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana in the 60 block of Tillotson Road, according to police.
There were also outstanding warrants for Lahey out of Kenilworth and South Plainfield, Fanwood police said. Lahey was turned over to authorities in South Plainfield.
THURSDAY, MARCH 18
· An Oakwood Court resident reported finding two holes the size of BB pellets in a window on her house.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 24
· Budhram Haimchand, 36, of East Orange was charged with possession of an open container of alcohol at the south side Fanwood Train Station, according to po- lice. He was also served with a warrant out of Montclair, for which he posted bail.
GOOD DENTAL FUN…Little Matthew DeBiasse, a member of the three-year- old class at Westminster Preschool in Fanwood, and fellow students enjoy learning about proper dental care. The lesson, which included a ride in the dentist's chair, was given by Dr. Fred Leahy of the Fanwood Dental Group. READ ALL ABOUT IT…Senate President Donald T. DiFrancesco, third from
left, presents a check for $15,000 to Fanwood Mayor Maryanne S. Connelly and Council President William E. Populus, Jr. for the Fanwood Public Library. The money will be used for general improvements at the library.
The Times on the Internet: www.goleader.com
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Fanwood TV-35 Weekly Schedule Thursday, April 1, 7:00 P.M.
Thursday, April 1, 8:00 P.M.
"Fallen Flags" a history of railroading in Union County produced by Channel 35
Monday, April 5, 8:00 P.M.
"FYI – Fanwood" the Mayor's Show.
Monday, April 5, 9:00 P.M.
"Cops TV" a joint project of the Fanwood-Scotch Plains Police Departments.
Wednesday, April 7, 7:30 P.M.
Paintings and Photos at an exhibition.
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