‘I don't want to keep fighting.’ West Orange bagel store owner takes town to court after being fined $1,500 a day for covered windows
Can a town tell a restaurant owner how much sunlight to let inside the store?
A battle is currently underway between the Township of West Orange and a small business owner, who is being fined thousands of dollars a day for blocking his windows.
According to a township ordinance, no more than a third of the window space can be used for signage and windows must be transparent. The code also mentions that interior screens must be kept clean.
Jarrett Seltzer opened his dream store, Bagels by Jarrett. The only problem was it came mere days before the COVID-19 lockdowns in the winter and spring of 2020. His plan to having a bagel store shifted to curbside takeout - and that plan stuck years later.
Seltzer says the town has come down on him for shading the front of his store using window covers. He says the town is fining him $1,500 for keeping his shop’s windows covered. According to Seltzer, the shades on his business came with the building when he purchased it from its former owners, and he says they were never fined.
Not only do the window shades block unsightly refrigerators, but because of the location, Seltzer says it also helps keep the sun and hot temperatures from coming inside. Seltzer has already been in court twice over the issue.
“I don't want to keep fighting. It's expensive. It's draining. I want to make food, that's what I'm really good at. It took 40 years of my life to realize that I'm really good at it,” Seltzer said. “I'm really good at making food and that's what I want to focus on.”
Seltzer showed News 12 New Jersey one of the citations he received from the town in court on Tuesday. He entered a not guilty plea. His next court date is scheduled for Oct. 17, and he says he’s prepared to take this to trial.