The Bayonne City Council approved a 30-year payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) for the Resnick’s Redevelopment Plan, by a 4-1 vote, despite some residents voicing their concerns.
The agreement of payment in lieu of taxes or PILOT would run for 30 years and provide 12 percent of the development’s annual gross revenue in payment to the city and county.
There were a few intense conversations prior to the deliberation starting with Bayonne Tax Assessor Joe Nichols.
“I’m not saying don’t build the property, I’m saying don’t tax abate the property,” Bayonne resident Albert Rinaldi said during a back-and-forth with Nichols.
“First of all, it’s not an abatement, it’s an exemption. It never pays less than the property, as we just explained, it probably never pays less than what it was paying before,” Nichols responded.
“So listen … I grew up in this town, I was born here, okay, I still live here, I’ve lived here for 60 years. I’ve walked by many an empty lot and they’ve been empty for 25 years and if that’s the way we want to go, you can have that!”
Patrick Kelleher, President of the Hudson County Building and Construction Trades Council along with many union laborers who addressed the council, requested a project labor agreement (PLA) to use local union for the redevelopment.
Currently, the Resnick agreement does not have any plan in place which can allow the developers to employ laborers outside of the union.
On a positive note, Bayonne will be dedicating a five percent of the PILOT to the Bayonne Board of Education, although the percentage can be considered too small to actually make a difference for the school board as Bayonne resident Peter Franco pointed out.
Franco also asked 1st Ward Councilman Thomas Cotter to recuse himself from the vote since the same investor on the abatement application also made a $1,000 contribution to Cotter’s campaign in July 2015.
“Mr. John Cali, whose listed as an investor on the abatement application, this is the same Mr. Cali who made political contributions to my councilman, Mr. Tom Cotter, in July of 2015, prior to the city council vote to approve the redevelopment plan,” Franco said.
“If I was looking to hide something, I wouldn’t disclose it, okay?,” Cotter shot back.
“The reality is that the conflict still exists,” Franco argued.
“It’s not bad conduct,” Cotter replied.
“Would you refund the $1,000?,” Franco asked repeatedly, with Cotter taking offense to the notion that any donor is “buying” his vote.
Bayonne resident Joe Wisniewski also asked Cotter the same question about Lance Lucarelli. He then challenged the council on the records he found of financial liens on Lucarelli and asked why background checks aren’t required for developers.
The Resnicks development will be a 10-story 91-unit, mixed-used space with 150 parking spaces. The PILOT will allow the city to receive more than $300,000 a year.
Third Ward Councilman Gary La Pelusa was the only member who voted against the measure.
“My constituents … they really didn’t want the project. They didn’t want to give you a tax abatement that high.”