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Residents: Ridgewood Council Hazy On High-Density Housing Studies

Ridgewood residents turned out in the hundreds on Sept. 30 to encourage the council to vote "no" on a proposal that would allow multi-family apartment buildings.
Ridgewood residents turned out in the hundreds on Sept. 30 to encourage the council to vote "no" on a proposal that would allow multi-family apartment buildings. Photo Credit: Cecilia Levine

RIDGEWOOD, N.J. — The Ridgewood Council, with the exception of Deputy Mayor Albert Pucciarelli, voted in favor of commissioning a series of studies for a high-density housing proposal at the Sept. 30 council meeting.

During Monday night's council meeting, however, it appeared that some council members struggled to recall what they'd supported six weeks ago. (U-STREAM: CLICK HERE).

Mayor Paul Aronsohn said only one council member was having trouble remembering but during the meeting said it is "still inconclusive if we will do additional studies."

"At the Council meeting, we agreed to move forward with a financial impact study that would, among other things, look at potential school impacts and look at different potential density levels," Aronsohn said. 

"We also agreed to look at what impact studies had been done during the nearly five years of Planning Board consideration and then decide what, if any, additional studies we need to do now."

"To me, that seems both prudent and responsive."

Then, he said, council will decide which other ones are needed.

Trust in the village council is slipping away for village resident Dana Glazer.

"It was almost, like, were we even sitting in the same room on Sept. 30?" he said. "It was pretty clear to me and everyone else in there what they voted on and for it to suddenly become this vague, unclear thing is very disheartening."

Glazer feels council members were "backpedaling and muddying the lens."Councilwoman Gwenn Hauck insisted the confusion was a product of a meeting that ran well past midnight.

"It was late at night and it... circumvented the public hearing process," she said. 

Hauck pointed out that she is "in favor of studies that can better inform the public, and take into account all the variables that affect our village council's decision to approve or reject the planning board's multifamily housing decision. 

"This issue is a complicated puzzle."

The councilwoman suggested revisiting the vote for further studies since "there were no supporting documents explaining what we were voting on. 

"It takes courage to lead the entire village and serve the needs of residents," she told Daily Voice. "There are so many questions that still need to be answered."

Both Glazer and Ridgewood resident David Slomin said they were misrepresented.

"The high density development issue is too big a deal for our Council to forget that an important set of studies was voted upon and approved," Slomin said in an email to the council Tuesday morning. "We want so deeply to trust that our council is operating with the greatest mindfulness, diligence and wisdom in truly representing the best interests of the current Residents of Ridgewood."

CLICK HERE to watch the 26-second vote on Sept. 30.

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