The council meeting that started as a promising compromise between Bayonne residents and city council resulted in an outburst of frustration when the board passed the 46th Street redevelopment plan.
John Wyciskala of Inglesino, Pearlman, Wyciskala & Taylor, LLC., who serves as a special redevelopment counsel to the City of Bayonne, first explained the process of the plan to the residents to reassure that the project was not given preferential treatment.
Councilman at-Large Juan Perez, who was not in attendance at the last council meeting, also addressed the public stating that he has watched the coverage and was therefore fully informed of what has occurred at the last meeting.
Shortly after, John McDonough, a licensed professional planner who has worked with the City of Bayonne in several development projects stated:
“Redevelopment is to reincentivize and to spark development in areas where conventional zoning may have failed and this is the opportunity for the city to capitalize on that tool, on that planning tool, and reinvigorate the Broadway corridor.”
McDonough also addressed the crowd’s confusion stating the building will be 100 feet, 10 stories, 88 units with 1.5 parking spaces allocated to each unit “which is consistent with multi-family homes.”
He also explained that this plan mandates “give backs to the community” with the park and the street scape offering shopping and outdoor cafés.
As for tax abatements, developments can apply but “tonight is just about the plan.”
The overall consensus of the public comments claimed that they were in full support of a redevelopment plan, but did not support a 100-foot building, as most feel “that it just doesn’t belong there.”
Marney Riley, who supported the plan, referred to a recent arrest report as a reason why the plan was a poor idea.
“Did you see the article this morning, ‘Bayonne man nabbed with 500 bags of heroine’, she said. “Do you want somebody coming into this town with a disposable needle or disposable income?”
Robert Engelhardt, who is not against redevelopment, but is against the plan, said community output was largely ignored.
“Councilman La Pelusa said he tried to open channels for negotiations, I was wondering if this council has gotten any farther with the public and developers to work with the height of the building?”
“The plan before us, is still the plan before us, the plan has not changed,” Council President Sharon Nadrowski immediately responded.
LaPelusa then followed up, “I have asked several times, but the developers said they could not lower it.”
“Most people that speak up against this, are not against redevelop, they are just against the height of this particular building,” said Engelhardt.
Engelhardt also brought to light that based on the Residential Site Improvement Standard (RSIS) by the state of New Jersey, a requirement is 2.6 parking spaces per multi-family home.
Tracey Monroe, a resident whose home will be across the street from the planned parking lot, was willing to sell her home because she does not want to live across from it.
Gene Hunt, also a longtime resident, asked the council why they aren’t concentrating on just bringing new stores in the city so that they would keep the shopping local and to create local family recreation venues.
Nadrowski clarified that because the median income in the City of Bayonne is $55,000 a year, businesses like” Bounce U” will not come because it’s not considered profitable by them.
Matthew Kopko, a Republican nominee for District 31 State Assembly, challenged City Clerk Robert Sloan on the confusion that happened last meeting regarding Councilman Sal Gullace.
“Tonight’s vote on the redevelopment plan is unnecessary because it was already voted on last council meeting.”
He pointed out that Gullace, who was pilloried for his decision, initially voted against it.
Kopko then challenged Sloan, “You Mr. Sloan turned around, faced Councilman Gullace and said, “Don’t vote ‘no,’ you’ll kill”.
Sloan explained to Kopko and the residents that he understood what Gullace intended to do and wanted to make sure he really wanted to vote against it.
Peter Franco, a Bayonne activist, told the council that it was important that they listen to the people of Bayonne and proposed a community redevelopment board so that the residents can have “an initial review on every development proposal.
When Lance Lucarelli, a developer of The L Group and responsible for the building design, addressed the public, he was heckled and accused of grandstanding.
“Everybody says that the solution is to save Broadway, I agree and this building that I am designing has 1.2 cars for the 88 units and its only 9 stores high,” said Lucarelli.
He explains that the units starting at $2,000 a month for rent will bring in $24,000 and year to Bayonne and this will increase the median income that Council President Nadrowski mentioned earlier in the meeting.
Lucarelli insisted that with this building, retailers will come and will only benefit the city.
Just before midnight, the council voted 4-1 to pass the 46th Street redevelopment plan, with Councilman Gary La Pelusa voting against it.