WEST ORANGE, NJ — After complaints continued at the Oct. 16 West Orange Township Council meeting about the recently opened Aron’s Market on Eagle Rock Avenue due to noise and a lack of garbage collection, the township plans to crack down on the business with fines in an effort to relieve the quality-of-life issues the neighbors of the grocery store have been facing since September.
At the Sept. 25 council meeting, Kenz Terrace resident Leslie Cui said the noise of the delivery trucks was keeping her family awake all night.
“Aron’s Market built an additional freezer onto the original building and the cooling machine is very loud,” Cui said. “The machine is running 24 hours a day and never stops. In addition, the store’s delivery truck and the garbage collection start working at about 3 a.m. and wakes up my family.”
Essex County officials tested the noise levels in September and the results showed 61 decibels, which is 50 percent higher than the 40 decibels allowed by the West Orange noise ordinance. The market had a 30-day grace period to fix the issue; that grace period ended Oct. 22, a month after the county took noise samples. Business Administrator Jack Sayers said at the Oct. 16 meeting that the noise issue has improved in the past couple of weeks.
At the Sept. 25 meeting, resident Sydell DeMaio also complained about the noise coming from the market, in addition to saying that the employees are not properly disposing of garbage. At the Oct. 16 council meeting, DeMaio said the garbage issue still was not resolved.
“We on Kenz Terrace are trying to avoid a potential rat infestation,” DeMaio, who lives on the street behind the market, said at the meeting. “We are becoming increasingly alarmed about this potential rat infestation. The stacked pallets are going to provide a perfect nesting ground for rats and for other wildlife. There is an odor from their garbage, the open lids, the large openings on two sides of the Dumpster, the standing water, the unkempt property and the overgrown weeds and debris will definitely attract rats.”
According to DeMaio, delivery pallets are stacked at a dangerous height in the parking lot of Aron’s. She said the number of pallets has increased during the last month and garbage is thrown directly into the Dumpster rather than being put into bags and placed in the dumpster.
“This in addition to the noise is a quality-of-life issue,” DeMaio said. “I did ask for Aron’s to be temporarily closed until it is cleaned up completely. I know that’s not going to happen, but at least do something so we can live.”
Sayers said that fines are likely the only option left in trying to resolve the problem with Aron’s, adding at the Oct. 16 meeting that when he and other town officials have visited the property it is clean despite the complaints still being lodged.
“We get complaints from Mrs. DeMaio and other people, we go up there, we take care of it, and then the next day the same thing is happening,” Sayers said. “Same thing with the pallets. We’ve spoken to them probably three or four time about those and Mrs. DeMaio is right, they’re still there. So we’re at a point now where we’re going to start fining when we get there. In the morning it may be fine but in the afternoon or at nighttime, it’s a mess.”
Sayers said that sometimes, when he and health department officials visit Aron’s, the garbage is properly handled. Because they don’t always see a violation, they cannot issue a summons.
Assistant township attorney Kenneth Kayser said in an Oct. 5 phone interview with the West Orange Chronicle that the town wouldn’t be able to expedite the fine process without going through a court, which would take longer than the mandated 30 days. He said the same thing at the Oct. 16 meeting. Also at the meeting, Kayser said that he had been in contact with store owner Aron Hirtz to attempt to resolve the issues. Kayser and Sayers said that the town cannot shut down Aron’s.
Sayers also said at the meeting that the problem comes down to Aron’s management.
“Everyone says it’s the employees or the guys who put the garbage out at night and I get that,” he said. “But you’re responsible to supervise them just like I’m responsible to supervise people in the town on a daily basis. They need to supervise their employees and I think that’s really what the biggest issue is.”
In an email to the Chronicle on Oct. 18, Hirtz said the market is working to resolve the issues that have given rise to the neighbors’ complaints.
“We take our responsibility to our neighbors and the township very seriously,” he said in the email. “Unfortunately, the noise issue was unforeseen, and our initial remedy in response to our neighbors did not solve the problem. We are currently in the midst of technical repairs to solve the noise issue permanently. We look forward to resolving all issues and welcoming our neighbors to our store.”
When asked if the employees have been working to resolve the garbage collection and buildup in the parking lot, Hirtz did not respond by press time on Oct. 23.