Old motel to become luxury condos


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  • PHOTO BY ANN GENADER Luxury condos will replace the former motel at 165 Lakeside Road in Hewitt.



BY ANN GENADER

It took a long time to resolve issues but Joseph Fontana finally received final approval from the West Milford Zoning Board of Adjustment to go ahead with his project to convert the long-vacant Mountainside Inn motel at 165 Lakeside Road into nine luxury condominiums.

The approval involved a use variance for expansion of a pre-existing-non conforming use to expand the building.

The board unanimously gave its approval last month and memorialized that action this month.

An issue of abandonment and non-conforming use as a commercial hotel had to be resolved before the board could move forward with the actual application itself.

In April 2016, Fontana appealed the zoning officer’s decision as to whether a use variance was required for the proposed zoning request. Then in May of that year he filed for a use variance. The case dragged on for many more months with the applicant being represented by Attorney Robert Moshman.

History of the buildingThe Mountainside Inn originally had 18 units and a restaurant.

Fred Bingler Sr. retired from owning and operating a transportation business in Paterson. In 1959, he arrived at Greenwood Lake and built his motel and restaurant.

The motel was usually filled to capacity all summer with a waiting list for the overnight accommodations. The restaurant was the meeting place for the West Milford Rotary Club, Chamber of Commerce and other organizations.

Bingler fell from a ladder while replacing a light bulb in front of the motel. He died as a result of the fall.

Carl and Selma Mason then purchased the building and operated the business.

John Aiello eventually purchased the building and in 2000 closed it and started making renovations. He remodeled most of the upstairs bathrooms and kitchens and installed stone tile flooring in the upstairs hallways and lobby. He marveled at the care Bingler had taken in constructing the building.

“He saw that all the bathrooms were tiled with concrete,” Aiello said in 2013. “The septic system was overbuilt with oversized tanks even though the ground was completely made up of gravel and shale. The back walls are of solid thick poured concrete. The second floor beams are made of steel worthy of skyscraper construction.”

In 2004, Hannenburg Investments purchased the building from Aiello and made changes - but plans to convert it into condos did not materialize.

The building was auctioned off at a sheriff’s sale in Paterson in Sept. 2013.

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