Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer implored the city council to finally pass the Southwest Redevelopment Plan, which ended up being approved by a vote of 8-1.
“This plan, this area was designated back on 2006. It’s something that has been on the table for a long time. But it’s time to get it done, it’s time to get it passed,” said Zimmer.
The mayor seemed to expressed frustration that the Council has taken too long debating the plan’s merits.
“We’re all talking about ‘we should be doing this, we should be doing that.’ The way to move this forward is to pass the plan. It sets the framework for a vibrant neighborhood. And then we will hear out the property owners with their proposals [to be bought out],” she explained.
“We’ve done an economic analysis and it’s a reasonable rate of return. Your job as the Council and my job as Mayor is to represent the interests of our community, not the highest profits for developers. I really urge you to please pass this plan tonight.”
But 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fischer also expressed frustration since the council’s input is being overlooked for the sake of expediency.
“The thing that is frustrating to me is that there are a number of people here that weren’t part of the process [dating back to 2006]. The process to offer feedback hasn’t been inviting,” she stated.
“When I gave input by asking questions about the plan, in response I was effectively told that the questions would delay the process. Basically says that my only input is my vote. If that is the case, and I have these concerns, then I cannot support the plan tonight.”
Several Hoboken residents spoke in favor of the plan, particularly James Vance, also the president of the Fund for a Better Waterfront, who said that the city shouldn’t delay the plan further by engaging in negotiations with property owners to acquire land, but should take the land away outright.
“I really recommend is that the city act like a real city. It’s going to cost money, but there is no free lunch. We need to amend this plan so that the city take the land and responsibly maintain it,” he said.
“Can you imagine trying to negotiate with 15 different property owners to figure out who is going to take care of the different plots of land? Let’s change this plan, act like a real city and get on with it.”
The council unanimously passed the first reading of the plan during a special meeting two weeks ago and Fisher was the only no vote during the second reading.