Bayonne 3rd Ward council hopeful Mark Urban, running as an independent, has pledged to be a full-time elected official if victorious on May 8th, also promising to take a thoughtful and responsible look at tax abatements.Â
“My objective there is to run as an independent for one reason and one reason only: I plan on serving on the council full time and retiring from my position with the New Jersey Turnpike authority,” Urban said during a sit-down interview with Hudson County View.
“I’ve done a number of things in the city, served on a number of boards and organizations and I feel it’s time for me to serve the city right now on a full-time basis and I want to serve as an independent because I believe as an independent, the only people you have to answer to are those that elect you.”
Urban, the current chair of the zoning board of adjustment, faces an uphill climb as he takes on incumbent Gary La Pelusa and Matt Klimansky – the latter running on mayoral hopeful Jason O’Donnell’s ticket.
Despite having no institutional backing or major financial support, the candidate says continued to emphasize that he plans on being an elected official – not a politician – meaning who would only represent the constituents of the 3rd Ward.
As a matter of fact, Urban believes that Bayonne should take a page out of the Hoboken playbook in the sense that only a portion of the council runs with the mayor – as opposed to all five seats at once in the case of the Peninsula City.
“When you run on the slate with the mayor, you’re pretty much controlled and you’re influenced quite a bit – into your decisions – and as an independent: you’re not at all,” he said when defending why he was not interested in running on either ticket this year.
Generally speaking, Urban feels that although tax abatements can be a valuable tool for development, they should be scaled back from what the current trend in Bayonne has been – typically 20- to 30-year tax breaks.
One way to evaluate each project on a case-by-case basis is to establish a Real Estate Advisory board, which would provide an analysis of each potential new development coming to the city.
“One of my issues on my agenda is for the establishment of the Real Estate Advisory Board and that would be a group of brokers from the city, in the real estate offices, that would sit in on a voluntary basis – with the representatives from the city – and you would be better able to negotiate deals,” Urban stated.
“As the developer comes into the city, the Real Estate Advisory Board would sit and negotiate maybe a better deal. Because right now as we all know, the economy has picked up and that has led to the real estate market picking up – we need to take full advantage of that.”
Specifically, Urban would like to see financial institutions come to the former Military Ocean Terminal, since that would assure higher paying jobs, also noting he did not agree with the final Resnick’s Redevelopment Plan which was approved by the council in February 2017.
“In one case, the 46th Street Resnick’s building: that was way too big for that area. It’s gonna fringe on the quality of life for the residents on that block. Maybe going six stories high there should’ve been negotiated, and once again, my real estate advisory board would’ve been extremely helpful there.”
The 10-story, 91-unit, mixed-use project was granted a 30-year payment in lieu of taxes agreement, though La Pelusa is in agreement with Urban on this one – he was the only council member to vote against the PILOT deal.
The Bayonne municipal elections are on May 8th and the 3rd Ward is the only council race that features three candidates, making a June runoff a very realistic possibility.