City Council Meeting 10/4/2006
SEE 10/5/06 UPDATE AT THE BOTTOM
I haven’t had much time to review the agenda.
Up for second readings are:
– The 10 million dollar bond issue
– The movie theater ordinance
– The mercury vapor lot
(read more about those here)
– Making 5th Street a one-way street eastbound from Hudson St. to River St.
Come check out the meeting tonight at 7 PM!!
Fun as always!
Click below to read summary
The Hoboken City Council was anxious to get home to watch the Yankee game last night. So anxious, they adjourned without allowing the public to speak at the end of the meeting. It ended up getting rained out, and they lost today.
The vote to move the city toward acquiring the “mercury lots” at 7th between Adams and Grand — and the 10 million dollar bond that would be used to pay for it — passed by a vote of 7-2. Councilpersons Michael Russo (3rd Ward) and Theresa Castellano (1st Ward) opposed the measure, because the ordinance was written to indicate the sites would be acquired for use as a “public safety” facility. Russo, who represents the area around the mercury site, says the people there do not want another firehouse. He has proposed assisted living for seniors.
The debate included comments that the Federal Government, which owns the lots after cleaning them up, is looking for 15 to 20 million dollars in the auction, not the four million the city is looking to bid. Developers are likely to bid more than 4 million for the sites. In response, 4th ward councilman Chris Campos attempted to intimidate anyone who would consider offering their own bid for the property that would compete with the city. Members of the council and the audience were shocked he would make such a public threat in advance of a public auction of federal property.
Several people spoke out against plans to change the Northwest Redevelopment Plan to allow for an 810 seat movie theater on 14th Street. Mayor Roberts put language in the ordinance that would also allow Ursa/Tarragon to build another 100 Condos on land in the zone that was supposed to be commercial buffer zone area. Ursa/Tarragon is one of Roberts’ biggest campaign contributors, so the bonus comes as no surprise. Several residents from the new condos near the proposed theater turned out to oppose the plan, saying they feared the noise and crowds the theater would attract, as well as expressing sincere concern that Hoboken can’t sustain a five-screen theater with no parking. The original redevelopment plan allowed for a theater with parking, but the developer would rather build condos on their land than parking spaces. Councilpersons-at-Large Theresa LaBruno and Peter Cammarano dismissed the neighbors as NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) types whose concerns are not relevant when their constituents are complaining they no long have a theater in town.
The proposed theater is in the 5th ward, represented by Councilman Michael Cricco. He voted against the theater proposal, but made no effort during debate to convince his council colleagues to oppose it. Cricco stated he took a poll of residents, and found 95 percent of those suurronding the theater opposed it, and about 60 percent of the 5th ward was opposed, so he would vote no to represent them. The vote was 6 to 1, with Russo and Castellano abstaining because Russo’s mother is the exclusive real estate agent for the Ursa/Tarragon condos.
The council also took receipt of a letter from the Planning Board indicating they hired a planner to investigate whether the Neumann Leather small business and arts enclave is “an area in need of redevelopment.” The Planning Board does this on orders from the Mayor’s office. This was a hot topic before the last Mayoral election when Roberts tried to rezone the Neumann site for 14 story condo towers. Rumor has it the only reason this is being done now is because a developer has told the Mayor he wants the property.
The council also approved first reading of an ordinance to convert 5th Street from River Street to Sinatra Drive to one way-traffic. This is designed to increase safety around the park and ball fields. A public hearing will be held at the next City Council meeting.