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Accused Arsonist Collapses in Court

Curtis Westover reported to be ill.

Zion Road resident Curtis Westover collapsed as he entered a courtroom Monday to answer charges he set a fire in a historic Amwell Road property in March, according to NJ.com

The report quotes Westover's attorney, Chanel Hudson, as noting Westover was in poor health, mentally and physically.

The charges stem from a March 18 fire at 697 Amwell Road, which investigators deemed suspicious. The property was built in the 1800s, but had fallen into disrepair in recent years. Owner John Lazorchak had been trying to demolish the structure to build a 6,700-square-foot office building.

Westover was taken into custody March 26, and released on $50,000 bond. He had applied for a pre-trial intervention program, which could have led to dismissal of the charges, but was  

Court papers said Westover’s application was rejected based on the nature of the charge, but Assistant Prosecutor Frank Kolozieski wrote in a letter that despite Westover’s age and his lack of a previous record, that the case was “outrageous” and “worthy” of a traditional prosecution.

NJ.com reported Westover's next court date is scheduled for Jan. 25.

Edward P. Campbell December 12, 2012 at 01:51 PM
There is so much more to this story than just what is published here. Mr. Westover has been denied the use of his property by the township for years on end now. All the poor man wanted to do was build a second house on his 8 acres of legally owned property. However, all the open space fans, along with the NIMBY’s jumped up and down and screamed, you can’t built that there, forcing Mr. Westover to put a large sum of money (I’ve heard over $40,000) into engineering and other studies on his property to prove his eight acres can indeed support another house, and even though all those studies conclude it can, he is still denied the use of his own property by the township! What he did was wrong, there is no doubt, but what the township is doing to him is just as bad! In the meantime the Township continues to send Mr. Westover his property tax bill and demand payment of same, as if Mr. Westover actually owns and has "rights" to his property! Remember this. A government that can do something like this to Mr. Westover, can to it to you too!
watchful one December 12, 2012 at 03:14 PM
So, because he has an ongoing zoning dispute with the township, he is allowed to burn down a house listed on the National Register of Historic Places?
Edward P. Campbell December 12, 2012 at 07:01 PM
No, that is not what I’m saying at all. He admitted to committing arson and he should be punished accordingly. Have any other admitted arsonist been given PTI, or are they all denied? Why did prosecutor Frank Kolozieski decide this case was “outrageous” and “worthy” of a traditional prosecution? The reality of the situation here is Mr. Westover did nothing more than set a pile of rubble on fire. Was that wrong? Of Course it is wrong, particularly because it wasn’t his to burn. But, just because it is a bunch of rubble from the years 1800-whenever, doesn’t make it anything other than a pile of very old rubble does it? America was founded on the rights of private property ownership. Very brave men put not only their lives on the line, but those of their families too, all so we could be free and secure in the usage and ownership of our legally owned land. The bullcrap that Mr. Westover, Mr. Lazorchak, and many other residents have been put through by the Township, The Open Spaces, and the NIMBY’ers, is wrong, and in my opinion un-American in its nature. Odd isn’t it? Here we are so bent on maintaining our history, we are willing to throw our very Constitution away to do so! Remember a government strong enough to do this to these two gentlemen, is a government big enough to upset your Apple Cart too!
watchful one December 12, 2012 at 07:52 PM
private property rights? weren't the founding fathers all into city planning? of course they were. they believed in locally elected people making their own laws for their own communities. that's what this nation was founded on. your fase notion of "private property rights", and calling a house on the national register a "pile of rubble" shows exactly where you are coming from.
S.G. December 12, 2012 at 08:31 PM
The "open space fans" didn't object, but the residents who are familiar with the geology of the mountain and the effect of development on their wells did. That's why it is zoned with the larger lots. [LOL. Good one about the taxes and property rights...almost got me with that one!]
S.G. December 12, 2012 at 09:23 PM
Mr. Campbell, you raise some interesting points. Not being admitted to PTI: As you stated, the building did not belong to Mr. Westover. Additionally, part of the decision to prosecute was probably based on the serious nature of arson charges and the regret or lack of regret of the accused. And I don't believe that arson charges are dependent on the historical or non-historical nature of the building. Yes, "very brave men put...their lives on the line". The fire fighters who were called out to extinguish the deliberately set fire. And, as close as the buildings are in that area, neighboring houses were also in jeopardy. Americans elect and appoint officials to uphold the ordinances supporting the public's general welfare and agreed to by the majority of the citizens. Part of citizenship involves abiding by those laws. And NIMBY's? So you don't believe in the right of citizens to stand up and give their opinions to their elected and appointed officials? Do you object to the right of the residents near the proposed GenPsych complex to speak out?
Edward P. Campbell December 12, 2012 at 10:08 PM
Just where am I coming from? Have you driven on that section Amwell Road lately? I hate to say this but you must be kidding me. Hummmm, an auto body shop, a hair salon, a couple ground mounted satellite dishes, a few more on the roofs, a landscaping office, a tree service, and more than one how shall I put this politely, ahhh….. houses that are in desperate need of attention, some even vacated. It is not that either of these guys wanted to do anything outrageous. Mr. Westover just wanted to build another house on his eight acres. Two whole houses on eight acres, kind of sad being told he can’t when we have allowed housing densities in this town that are tighter than Brooklyn, NY! Mr. Lazorchak, all he wanted to do was build a small office building that might house a chiropractor, dentist, and or maybe a doctor or two. Now here is what our founding farther thought about private property. They understood clearly that private property is the foundation not only of prosperity but of freedom itself. Thus, through the common law, state law, and the Constitution they protected property rights—the rights of people to freely acquire, use, and dispose of property. Centrally not the malarkey you typed. Go read the 5th amendment. Believe me, our founding fathers never foresaw the day their government would deny one’s right to build a second house on one’s eight acre lot! A government big enough to crush a freedom you don't like, is big enough to crush you too!
Edward P. Campbell December 12, 2012 at 11:05 PM
Ref. Genpsych. I believe in freedom of speech, and I support the Flanders Drive residents (and all others) their right to express themselves as provided by the 1st amendment. That said, I also believe in the rights of the owners of the property for sale to achieve maximum profit from the sale of their land, just as you or I would want with our land. I thankful our government is giving everyone their right to speak their mind, and I hope this matter can be worked out to everyone’s satisfaction and understanding. Sadly, in Westover’s case it certainly wasn’t going that way! The 8 acre lot can support both houses.

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