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Bagel shop owner says he’s not breaking the law by keeping window shades down


By Nick Caloway

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    WEST ORANGE, New Jersey (WCBS) — The owner of a bagel shop in West Orange, New Jersey thinks he’s being unfairly targeted by the town’s zoning department.

Jarrett Seltzer, who opened Bagels by Jarrett in early 2020, claims he was cited twice for zoning infractions even though he’s following the rules.

“We switched to curbside, obviously because of COVID. And it was one of those things that just ended up working,” said Seltzer.

That curbside-only business model stuck. Customers still order online and their food is carried out to them.

Seltzer keeps the shades down to lower his cooling bill and discourage customers from coming inside.

In July, Seltzer was given a summons from the West Orange Zoning Department, which claimed he violated an ordinance that states “all windows shall be left uncovered and shall not be opaque to the public view.”

The ordinance also says “All screening of interiors, or shades, shall be maintained clean and in a good state of repair.”

“As far as the code reads, we’re not breaking the code. And we stand by that,” said Seltzer.

Seltzer said the zoning department gave him another summons on Thursday for advertisements covering more than one-third of his windows, which he disputes.

Seltzer said he’s facing thousands of dollars in fines and possible jail time.

“If you drive down Main Street in West Orange, you will see that every single business has window shades up. No one has any issues with their window shades. It’s only my window shades. And I can’t tell you why,” said Seltzer.

Mayor Susan McCartney told CBS New York she believes Seltzer violated the ordinances even after she tried to work with him on a solution.

Loyal Bagels by Jarrett customers said Seltzer is being harassed by township officials over window treatments.

“I don’t understand it. I’m not a lawyer. I am a realtor in town, or whatever, so it really doesn’t make us look good, to be honest with you,” said Amy Gallatin.

Seltzer hired an attorney and plans to fight the claims before a judge on Aug. 22.

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