Dave Roberts on Neumann Leather
Will monetary influence play a role tonight?
Is the deck stacked in favor of Trammel Crow Residential and its application before the Zoning Board for the redevelopment of the Neumann Leather site?
It might be, if campaign contributions have anything to do with it.
The applicant’s attorney, James Burke, has made over $23,000 in contributions to local candidates and political committees over the last eight years. The applicant’s architect, Dean Marchetto, has made over $40,000 in contributions. Many applications before the zoning board are represented by these two individuals. Perhaps the word is out that these two have the inside track at city hall and that an application with their names on it will receive “special treatment.”
Or it could just be another remarkable Hoboken coincidence.
Interestingly, the Zoning Board planner and attorney, Elizabeth Vandor and Douglas Bern, have each given $14,000 to Dave Roberts’ campaign slates and the Hoboken Democratic Party which, up until two years ago, moved most of its money to Roberts’ campaigns. Looks like everyone has to pay tribute.
Tonight’s “conflict of interest” Zoning Board meeting is at 7pm – City Council Chambers!!!
(read more after the jump…)
Hearing adjourned to September 24th
It took until 11:30 pm for the Zoning Board to get far enough into it’s agenda to begin to hear the TCR application to tear down Neumann Leather. Following some introductory comments from a single witness, the matter was adjourned to a Special Meeting at 7pm on September 24th in the City Council chambers.
A large crowd stayed in the cramped quarters until 12:15 am. It may be even larger at the next meeting, which may be devoted exclusively to the Neumann question.
Read more about the Mayor’s position on the issue below…
Looking for a statement from Mayor Roberts about the Zoning Board of Adjustment meeting tonight on the proposal to tear down the Neumann Leather complex?
Roberts isn’t saying anything today about the doomsday plan to evict the tenants and drive a street through the complex, but he sure wasn’t quiet about Neumann during the spring 2005 Mayoral campaign. In fact, Roberts was falling over himself making campaign promises to “protect the artists, artisans and architecture of that building.” Just take a look at this full color glossy campaign mailer that Dave Roberts, Ruben Ramos, Terry LaBruno and Peter Cammarano sent out to the city in 2005:
The flier says “Mayor Roberts wants to preserve and improve the building and protect all artists and businesses,” joyfully adding “Mayor Roberts is working on a plan to preserve the building and protect the neighborhood!” The flier claims “The Roberts Plan” will include public gallery space – a public plaza – and support for non-profit organizations.”
Tonight, the Zoning Board (hand-picked by Roberts) will be asked to do what the Mayor claimed would never happen: grant many variances to a developer who will pulverize the Civil War-era building and replace the businesses and artists with more “Luxury Apartments.”
2005: Roberts puts Neumann in the crosshairs
Dave Roberts got the Neumann wrecking ball rolling in early 2005 because of – you guessed it – a huge budget gap. With an $8 million hole in his budget and a council hesitant to sell the Municipal Garage without a new one in place, Roberts cooked up a scheme to sell the Muni Garage immediately to a developer by changing the zoning to allow up to 14 stories on the city property and Neumann Leather. An outcry followed from neighbors, Neumann tenants, longtime Hobokenites tired of seeing their history torn down, and even the Sinatra family!
Roberts backtracks, claims to be Neumann savior
With the whole city (and the Sinatras) against him, Roberts did a 180 and changed tactics. Instead of changing the zoning on Neumann he proposed a redevelopment zone for the site that he claimed would fix everything. Roberts put out a statement carried by the weekly paper that said:
“I am fully committed to the preservation of the Neumann Leather building and support the continued use by the many tenants who occupy the historic structure. Over the past few weeks, I have met with representatives of the building’s owner and tenants leaders in an effort to work out a mutually acceptable accord.” – David Roberts, April 2005
READ THE REST BELOW!
(Roberts on Neumann Leather, continued…)
In massive damage control mode, Roberts used part of the $1.5 million dollar developer cash war chest amassed for him by the HCDO to send mailers that claimed to tell “the REAL story behind plans for Observer Highway…” The one below was targeted at the neighborhoods surrounding Neumann.
The fliers didn’t work downtown. The district closest to the property delivered the most lopsided vote against Roberts in the whole city, but he still won anyway. Once he was back in the Mayor’s seat Dave pretty much forgot all about Neumann Leather. It took more than a year for his administration to hire a planner to start a “Redevelopment Area Investigation Study” for Neumann. The planners did the work, but it was never brought back to the Planning Board. Roberts killed the Neumann Leather redevelopment process through neglect, and opened the door wide for the TCR plan in front of the ZBA tonight.
Neighbors and Neumann Tenants work on solutions
With the Mayor MIA (and constantly undermining the work of the Observer Highway Redevelopment Advisory Committee) neighbors who were part of that committee joined with Neumann Tenant leaders to continue to fight to save the historic property and it’s business and artist community. These people are now in the process of spending tens of thousands of dollars to save Neumann Leather because Dave Roberts breaks his promises. You can show your support tonight at 7pm in the downstairs meeting room at City Hall.
For more on Neumann Leather on Hoboken411:
- Meet some of the artists and see videos on why Neumann should be saved
- More on why Neumann Leathers is in Jeopardy
- News on a recent fundraiser