July 21, 2024
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World of Wings Site Rezoned for Residential Development

Teaneck—The introduction of a city rezoning ordinance, which was ultimately passed by the council by a vote of 5-0, brought residents out in force on Tuesday night, with approximately a dozen individuals speaking against the rezoning of the World of Wings site on Windsor Road for residential property development. The move presumably clears the way for AvalonBay Communities to purchase the property, though council members indicated that AvalonBay was not the only bidder in play to purchase the property, and that several non-profits are also under consideration.

Several residents spoke in favor of the development, many spoke against, citing overcrowding and quality of life issues, while still others continued to pontificate on the risks of any development occurring on the site while the CSX Bakken Crude Oil train lines continue to run and idle so close to the area. Concern was also expressed by State Senator and Teaneck resident Loretta Weinberg and others that any housing built should have 20 percent set aside for affordable housing or that the purchaser should be forced to pay into a fund for affordable housing.

A “citizens’ agenda” was circulated at the meeting, with typed comments inserted within a copy of the meeting agenda document. In the “work session items,” an anonymous writer inserted the following statement: “This is where Council members argue amongst themselves.” The agenda also advised the reader that “The Council will make every effort to delay discussion of the AvalonBay project. That’s why we have pizza (available in the hallway).” This reporter did not see any evidence of pizza, nor was she offered any.

The Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ also circulated flyers against AvalonBay, stating that “AvalonBay has had six major fires since 2000,” and that AvalonBay has a telling record on fair and affordable housing and “earlier this year, the Seattle Office of Civil Rights charged AvalonBay with discriminating against lease applicants on the basis of race.” AvalonBay is reportedly a non-union employer.

Deputy Mayor/Councilman Elie Katz took the opportunity at the beginning of the public comment period to share his thoughts with the residents. He shared that instead of the residents being against a specific company such as AvalonBay or CSX, he indicated that residents should come up with their own ideas to generate income for the town. “Without development and expansion of commercial industry within Teaneck, the tax burden will continue to rise unabated. However, with each project proposed, those who oppose progress come out in force while the taxpayer, who has everything to gain by these projects, remains silent. Teaneck is left with underdeveloped properties, vacant land, dying single-story business districts and no commercial tax base. This saddles the bulk of the school and municipal taxes on our single family residential homeowners…you.”

Chris Chessman, a Teaneck resident who lives directly across from the World of Wings property, expressed concern about the increase in traffic and the potential additional inconvenience of large-scale construction. “You talk about traffic every 11 minutes or so? Think about pulling out in the morning today, [even] without a multi-residential development. No one has talked about potential loss of property values on Windsor Road. When I and other residents of Windsor Road purchased our properties, we weren’t looking or conceiving that there would be 200 plus other residents directly across the street,” she said.

Teaneck resident Yechiel Rotblat stated that he was in favor of the development. He told the council he considered himself part of the silent majority that was underrepresented at the meeting. He called the site as close to ideal for a development project as possible. “There are a number of people in the community who would like to live in these apartments. This is an ideal place for residents in town who are looking to either having their children move to town, or have their parents move to town, or people who live here who are looking to downsize,” he said. Rotblat indicated that people who are looking to downsize from Teaneck are currently moving to Fort Lee, but they would prefer the option to “stay in town, stay near their friends, and near the institutions they are affiliated with.”

Jonnie Sofer, a Teaneck resident, spoke passionately about the risks of doing business with AvalonBay, a company that has filed tax appeals on 13 of its properties since 2009, resulting in significant loss of tax revenue for the cities in which they build.

By Elizabeth Kratz

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