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Feeling Marginalized, Shinozuka Resigns From Planning Board

The Ridgewood council didn't want her as a full-time member, Jane Shinozuka said, prompting her resignation.

Second alternate Jane Shinozuka turned in her planning board retirement papers Wednesday morning, leaving the board with two empty seats during a critical time for development issues in Ridgewood.

The East Side resident served on the board for nearly three years. Her resignation comes on the heels of full-time member Costantino Suriano announcing his departure.

In a conversation with Patch Wednesday night, Shinozuka said she didn't feel the council wanted to give her the full-time perks. So after much deliberation, she resigned.

Shinozuka's first term as a board member expired last summer. The Paul Aronsohn-led council majority elected to keep her in tow, but bumped her down from first alternate to second alternate.

"The board sets the agenda, but the council is reluctant to make me a full-time member," Shinozuka said. "They passed me over twice in six months – what am I to make of that? But that's the way the world works. The council says yes or no."

She added: "It just seemed like it was time to go."

Shinozuka was never provided a reason as to why she came back as a second alternate, she said. (She ran for a council seat in the most recent election, one in which the current council majority was elected.) 

Reached for comment Wednesday night, Aronsohn said it's inaccurate to say that Shinozuka was passed over twice in six months.

Wendy Dockray, the current first alternate, moves to full-time status with Suriano's recent resignation. As is proper protocol, Aronsohn said, Shinozuka moves to first alternate.

He declined to detail the reasons the council chose to move Shinozuka from first alternate to second alternate in 2012, calling the decision a personnel matter.

But Aronsohn and board chairman Charles Nalbantian both called Shinozuka Wednesday, appealing to her to remain on the board.

"We value her services and we wanted her to stay on the board," Aronsohn said. "That's why we reappointed her last year; it was the consensus of the council."

Nalbantian told Patch Wednesday night he found her to be a valuable member of the board who asked insightful questions. That she could represent views from those living on the east side of Route 17 was an added benefit, he added.

The board is currently without alternate members as it trudges through what is guaranteed to be a controversial decision on re-zoning for multi-family housing in the downtown.

There's no clearly defined timetable for a vote. 

Valley Hospital too may return to the planning board after its 'Renewal' expansion plans were quashed by the previous council.

Nalbantian said he doesn't believe the departure of Suriano and Shinozuka will be problematic for the planning board.

Shinozuka may be off the planning board, but she says she'll continue to stay active in Ridgewood civics.

sandy February 14, 2013 at 12:16 PM
Jane is a well informed member and should definitely be on the board. Especially since Valley Hospital held an extended traffic count this week which surely indicates they are planning to return to the picture soon. We need her input.
maureen February 14, 2013 at 03:12 PM
i agree . Jane stopped much of the development of the Ridgewood Ave home from becoming a multi- housing nightmare. I think she was great asset to the board. Sad to see her go.
longtimer66 February 14, 2013 at 04:35 PM
Why was she marginalized to 2nd alternate in the first place since she had already served as a PB member and thus had experience? And how is this a "personnel matter"? She's not an employee. Whole thing smacks of politics, which is sad. It seems too often to be only about tactics and strategy. We're owed something better by our govt and we need to demand that. Mayor Aronsohn said we were owed something better when he apologized to public after recent Council meeting when questions about process quickly turned into hurling accusations which the facts did not support. It's true on this matter too. Remember, the Master Plan amendments the PB passed on Valley H zoning are still on the books -- despite that the later Council hearings showed PB process that passed them was flawed. Yet, has the PB rescinded those amendments? Don't hold your breath waiting. So, that whole process can move fwd again with the amendments in place... anyone think it won't? The current PB needs to acknowledge its predecessor's process was flawed, and rescind the amendments. Then, with any new Valley plan, the process can begin again-- perhaps using some of the data and expert testimony acquired last time at both the PB and Council levels. Seems only fair-- if indeed they are charged with acting in the best interests of all taxpayers. If you wanted a variance and your plan was rejected, you'd have to start over with any new plan. Why not same for them?

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