Council meeting – burning the midnight oil
To quote a poster on the NJ.com forums: http://www.nj.com/forums/hoboken/index.ssf?artid=27788
Mayor Roberts has asked for a special meeting this Wednesday to put out the SW Redevelopment political fire.
He ignored the public and they rose up against him. Now he is trying to SPIN the issue down. His city council botched the last meeting, really bad press and the elections less than a year away have him woried.
Can Roberts with his record get the public to trust him?
I don’t think even the HCDO has that much money.
If he blows this again the 47% of the people who did not vote for him will have another issue to dump his boys on council for re-election.
No council majority – No power for Roberts.
Hoboken deserves better.
With a little help from friends, we present a recap of the June 22, 2006 council meeting for your reading enjoyment:
It was a standing room only crowd at the Hoboken City Council, with a long agenda that kept the meeting going well past midnight.
The first item involved the continuing financial shell game involving the City Garage on Observer Highway. Last year the city sold the Garage to the “Hudson County Improvement Authority” in order to get eight million dollars to fill a huge budget deficit in an election year.
With a city over budget again this year, the council was asked to approve another financial scheme to gain five million more dollars out of it’s equity in the garage. This time they voted to borrow enough money to pay back the HCIA, which would then transfer the City Garage to a new “Holding Company” run by North Fork Bank. In exchange for lending the city the money, North Fork will get up to $700,000 in cash in the next fiscal year beginning July 1st.
If the city didn’t borrow the money, taxes would have gone up, and people would have asked “why?” The city feels a sleeping electorate is the best electorate.
The next big item on the agenda was the proposed study of yet another “area in need of redevelopment.” This time the Mayor wants a redevelopment zone over the New Jersey Transit Rail Yards. Apparently NJ Transit is interested in building its own city over the rail yards, and has already hired a developer to do a plan for it. There were some comments that there is little Hoboken can do to stop them, while others demanded the city get involved now to make sure residents have a voice in the process. The city council said starting a new redevelopment zone is the way to do it.
The biggest item on the agenda involved the resolution to create a “Southwest Redevelopment Zone.” Many local residents from the Sky Club, Skyline, Hoboken Grande, Harrison Court, and many other buildings large and small told the city council they want to see the park that is included in the master plan established in that area. Many complained of the already bad traffic, and asked how adding several more high-rise buildings with a thousand more condos would help the situation. They also complained that the storm sewers are already overwhelmed, and more development will just make the infrastructure problems in the Southwest that much worse.
Other “community activists” complained about the city’s use of redevelopment zones. They called them “developer giveaways” that shortchange citizens who do not live in the zones. Others noted the owners of the properties in the area were asking for zoning board variances to allow several high-rise buildings between 12 and 15 stories tall. They disagreed with those who say redevelopment is the only way to get land for parks, and they noted the only park created within the Northwest Redevelopment Zone is the one at the end of the Shoprite Parking Lot.
In addition to the residents and activists, several developers and real estate investors who owned properties within the zone were in the audience to make their presence felt. One who owns property in the zone is the city’s Fire Chief, who spoke out to support the redevelopment zone. He wants to build a 14 story building on Newark Street.
After the public comment the city council members debated the issues. Fourth Ward Councilman Christopher Campos kicked things off. He lives in the Skyline building that is in the zone. His position is that the best way to get the parks the residents want is to establish a redevelopment zone. Other council members were not as convinced. They said the process is moving too quickly, without so much as a traffic or infrastructure study. Councilman DelBoccio of the 2nd Ward rejected the planner’s notion that one and two family homes in the zone should be called “in need of redevelopment.” The designation places them at risk for condemnation. He said those homes should not have been included.
Council members Russo of the 3rd ward and Castellano of the 1st ward also objected to the zone, as did 5th ward Councilman Cricco. Council-at-Large members LaBruno, Ramos, and Cammarano supported Councilman Campos’ call for redevelopment. These were the only eight city council members in the room for the meeting, so it ended in an 4-4 tie, right? WRONG. In an unprecedented move, 6th ward councilman Giacchi was allowed to attend the meeting BY PHONE from his vacation in Arizona! His was the deciding fifth vote that allowed the creation of the Southwest Redevelopment zone.
While there was some discussion of the creation of a community committee to give input on what should be done now, no formal action was taken. The Planning Board will now hire a planner to lay out a plan for the Southwest.