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Dear Westwood Resident,
Over the last three months, the governing body has been hard at work to ensure the continued health, safety, and stability of the Borough of Westwood. We have seen Westwood residents work hard to "flatten the curve" and we now enter "Phase 2" of the State’s reopening plan.
Through regular and special meetings, we have been functioning at max capacity, with little time to promote the critical actions we have taken to reopen Westwood as the bustling Hub it has always been. Since April, the Mayor’s Economic Advisory Group has been working closely with Council members, the Westwood NJ Chamber of Commerce, property owners, and business owners across multiple industries to assess immediate and longer term needs. Please read on to see what has been enacted to stand up our businesses while keeping our residents safe:
* Created curbside pick-up spots within the Central Business District. These spots will remain designated as such and will be reassessed periodically as the executive orders are relaxed and customer habits change.
* Approved a new, touch-free parking app for implementation throughout the downtown. Parking Authority Chair Joe Letizia worked to expedite and expand the long considered plan in light of our current climate and we look forward to this modernization in the coming weeks.
* Permitted retailers to expand their operations outside their storefronts to offset interior social distancing restrictions. Look for expanded retail offerings "in store" starting Monday, June 15.
* Permitted restaurants to expand their outdoor dining beyond their storefronts laterally, if agreements are reached between adjacent businesses/property owners, permitting expansion along building front, rear, and side facades.
* Permitted restaurants to expand their outdoor dining into private parking lots, thus temporarily relaxing zoning permissions and parking requirements.
* Permitted restaurants to expand their outdoor dining into parking spots along municipal streets. These "streateries" echo a parklet program Councilwoman Jodi Murphy had promoted last year and seeks to strike the delicate balance between offering eateries additional space while also permitting traffic to flow safely through the borough.
* Allowed eateries that hold a liquor license to expand sale and consumption beyond their interior premises, in accordance with State ABC laws and licenses.
* Created additional public seating for enjoyment of takeout in Veterans’ Memorial Park. This will be set up by the DPW this coming week.
* Increased sanitation protocols in the Central Business District
* Resolution support of a bipartisan bill drafted by Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi which would allow the Borough to close county roads (ie: Westwood Avenue) without seeking permission from the County to do so. This bill will be heard in the State Senate on Monday and, if signed by the governor, would thereby give the borough an additional tool to support our businesses, should the businesses be interested in such closures
* Completion of the Master Plan Reexamination by the Planning Board in fulfillment of the Borough’s statutory requirement to review the Master Plan every 10 years, 6 months ahead of time. This plan recommends various new uses within the Central Business District along with other land use and zoning considerations. A public, Zoom hearing to finalize the draft will be held on Thursday, June 25 at 8pm.
This list is neither finite nor set in stone. The Governing Body is committed to reassessing the needs of our residents and businesses as we emerge from lockdown and the landscape is more fully revealed. Furthermore, we are committed to reducing the barriers businesses face in reopening, balancing temporary premise expansions and use of municipally controlled properties with the need to keep our Hub open and accessible through safe pedestrian and vehicular access and available parking.
In the past week we have already noted an increase in traffic through our borough. We hope this trend continues as we safely move toward a new normal.
As a reminder - residents are encouraged to sign up for meeting and agenda alerts on the Borough website to stay informed: www.westwoodnj.gov
Mayor Ray Arroyo