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West Milford candidates talk about business development in town

| 17 Jul 2018 | 01:12

This is the second in a series of questions and answers columns in The West Milford Messenger posed to candidates running in the General Election this fall for the two seats on the Township of West Milford Council.
You can see past week's columns online at
Question: Are you happy with business development in West Milford? Please explain your answer and what should be done and what you would do if elected regarding this issue?
Kristin Reeves, 63, is running as a Democrat for the seat.
Reeves' answer:
As we continue in this process, I may start to sound like a broken record but I truly think that developing business opportunities in West Milford is critical for the success and future of our town.
A brewery. The New Jersey Craft Beer Association (NJCB) organization keeps track of all things beer in our region.
I was in contact with the founder of NJBA and West Milford is now on the list for beer-makers looking for a place to make their product.
We need to research what is required to make beer, determine locations in our town that would meet those requirements and actively go after them.
The Wallish Estate. There may be an opportunity to team with Rutgers University to renew the property as a working farm; keeping the existing historic buildings and renting the tillable land to an environmentally conscious farmer.
How do we get there? The formation of creative, non-political groups that will focus on a single goal.
Developing a plan based on research and setting time-line goals. The Council must do their best to support those goals and work with the group to facilitate reaching them. This collaboration has been used to great success around the world and can be observed working extremely well in Lancaster, Pa.
None of this is a quick fix.
It will take time to reach those goals. Lancaster has been working with this model for 20 years.
But if we do nothing to project our vision into the future we’ll only stay where we are, and that’s not acceptable.
Let’s get started!
There is a group forming for the Wallish Estate. Those with farming experience, great ideas and are ready to collaborate please contact Dave Ofshinsky at:
And although there’s currently no beer group let’s start one!
Contact me at:
What’s YOUR vision?
Kristin Reeves, 63, has lived in West Milford for the last 23 years.
Her slogan: Independent. Creative. Leadership.

Republican candidates Marilyn Lichtenberg, 70, and Ada Erik, 65, are presenting themselves as a team, though they are each up for individual election. They chose to respond together with one answer:
Lichtenberg and Erik's answer:
Our economy is changing and the impact can be seen in many vacant store fronts throughout the nation.
However, West Milford has always had challenges attracting businesses for several reasons.
First, as indicated in our response last week, the Town’s main business district lies eight miles off the main highway.
Therefore, local businesses do not benefit from the transient traffic that runs through the Township on a daily basis.
Second, we are what many people have described as a “bedroom” community, meaning many residents work outside of Town.
As a result, these residents often find it more convenient to make their purchases as they travel to and from their workplace, rather than travel into West Milford’s business center after a long workday.
We have three suggestions: 1.) Notwithstanding the above, certain businesses do seem to thrive in our Town, such as personal services businesses.
We intend to work with Township officials to identify and attempt to attract more, and a greater variety, of these personal services businesses.
2.) In order to attract more traffic to our businesses from outside West Milford, we will again lobby our state representatives to designate West Milford as a 3 percent sales tax zone.
This will give residents of other community’s incentive to travel to businesses in our Town Center, and offset some of the adverse impact imposed upon our businesses by the Highland’s Act.
3.) We will work to promote our existing local businesses, including promoting our tourism highlights, such as our 13 hiking trails, five reservoirs, a local museum, Long Pond Ironworks, community gardens and Wallisch Property events, all of which draw potential customers into Town for the benefit of our local business owners.
In summary, we all need to do our best to patronize local businesses, promote the benefits of traveling into West Milford for shopping, and to lobby our legislators to provide appropriate relief to our community to offset the adverse impact to our local businesses caused by the Highland’s Act and the large swaths of State and Watershed lands that separate the West Milford business district from the only highway through the Township.
Marilyn Lichtenberg, 70, is a lifelong New Jersey resident and has lived in West Milford for the last 56 years.
Ada Erik, 65, is a lifelong resident of West Milford.

Michael Chazukow, 40, is running for the office as a Libertarian.
Chazukow's answer:
"The only proper role of government in the economic realm is to protect property rights, enforce contracts, adjudicate disputes, and provide a legal framework in which voluntary trade is protected.
Efforts to forcibly redistribute wealth or forcibly manage trade are unacceptable," from the NJ Libertarian Party Platform.
I currently serve as Secretary of West Milford’s Economic Development Commission (EDC). I’ve been reviewing ordinances with the commission to help clean up any outdated or overly restrictive ordinances that may unnecessarily impact businesses.
One of my proposals was recommended to the council and passed into law earlier this year.
It eliminated a requirement for businesses with pool tables to get a permit.
There are a variety of excessive regulations, permit fees, and zoning variation issues that businesses are enduring every day.
But eliminating or streamlining these processes and corresponding fees could result in deficits.
So as an additional cost cutting measure, I would work with the council to privatize or set up nonprofits that could take over some government functions.
Examples of this working well are the West Milford Animal Shelter and Wayne PAL.
If elected, I will not only work to remove barriers restricting or preventing participation in the local economy, I will also fight to end government monopolies and the granting of special privileges to businesses.
Our economy won’t be improved by treating a new business better than existing ones. We need to make our economy work for all the residents and businesses already in West Milford.
If local businesses could spend less time worrying about paying fees they could focus more on serving the community.
Residents shouldn’t need to participate in government or get its permission to help themselves and serve each other.
Our state motto, “Liberty and Prosperity” should serve as a reminder that you cannot have Liberty or Prosperity without the other.
Michael Chazukow, 40, has lived in West Milford for about 30 years.
His slogan: Liberty for West Milford.