New focus on the Hewitt business area near Greenwood Lake could be a boost for the overall economy of the Township of West Milford.
In addition to a new grocery store at the old A&P site, and new retail outlets like Tractor Supply and Dollar stores, are breathing new life into that section of the township.
Mayor Michele Dale and plaza owner Mark Lane toured the new Highland Market construction in the old A&P this week.
The plaza will also have an expanded liquor store and physical fitness facility to join the other new retail outlets.
Late last year the local governing board requested that the West Milford Planning Board do a preliminary investigation to see if the property at 1938 Union Valley Road, the site of the former A&P shopping center, could meet the criteria for redevelopment.
The Highlands Council provided grant funds for a Highlands Economic Development Study.
The report includes a map showing the boundaries of the proposed Redevelopment Area and location of properties in it as well as a statement setting forth the basis for the preliminary investigation.
If the board concurs with findings of the study, a recommendation will be made to the mayor and Township Council to study if the delineated area, or any part of it, qualifies as an area in need of non-condemnation redevelopment in accord with the state Local Redevelopment and Housing Law.
Such a determination would not authorize the township to exceed the power of eminent domain in the delineated area.
Back from the earliest days through a few decades ago, Hewitt was an economically successful business area with stores that drew customers from miles around.
As shop keepers left for one reason or another, the shopping center suffered.
A public hearing on the study will be held at the West Milford Municipal Building meeting room on Feb. 27 at 7 p.m.
The report is on file in the Township Clerk’s Office and is available for public inspection.
Interested persons will also have an opportunity to give their comments, have them considered, and made part of the hearing record.
After the hearing the Planning Board will decide if they will make a recommendation to the mayor and council for a non-condemnation redevelopment designation.
The focus on the area could mean a rebirth of the business community in Hewitt.