After months of waiting, neighbors on East Ridgewood and Walthery Avenue will hear the planning board's decision to approve or deny
Developer Robert Jennee purchased the historic 1850 home from Barbara Lewis (of Gilbert and Sullivan Opera) after she was unable to successfully sell the landmark home in less-than-landmark condition. Jennee and his representatives say the most practical thing to do for the neighborhood is to allow him to knock the home down and place two modern homes of 3,200 feet on the same sized 25,000 square foot lot (just less than a half acre), which would be subdivided.
Using aerial photos, Jenne's planner David Troast said this would "correct" a property that would not be allowed under present zoning law (it was grandfathered), and would be more "in rhythm" with the other homes in the neighborhood.
Numerous variances would be required, which objecting attorney Harold Cook (representing neighbors) said would do nothing but harm the character of the neighborhood. His own witnesses testified to it being disruptive, and above all else, not in line with current village planning documents, which frowns on infill subdivisions.
Basically, neighbors said Jennee is trying to make a quick buck at the expense of what makes Ridgewood the Village of Ridgewood – character (however that's defined) and say putting two large homes on smaller lots just doesn't make sense.
Jennee's attorney Charles Collins upset many neighbors last go around when he threatened that if two residential homes cannot be placed, perhaps two homes for those suffering from head injuries, the group homes for battered women, developmentally disabled, daycare facility and others.
He did back down later in the meeting, instead saying–as he had previously–a 5,000 square foot home could be built on that lot instead. Although questions remain as to the viability of the real estate market for a new 5,000 square foot home, ultimately the planning board has final say. The board will meet at 7:30 p.m. in the municipal courthouse on the third floor of Village Hall.