Bayonne City Council narrowly approves Caschem Redevelopment Plan


The Bayonne City Council approved the Caschem Redevelopment Plan after the city’s planning board approved it last week.

An artist’s rendering of the Caschem Redevelopment Plan.

By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View

“The developer of this project stands to make a lot of money if this is approved tonight,” said 3rd Ward council candidate Peter Franco, accusing upcoming opponent 3rd Ward Councilman Gary La Pelusa of being bought off by the developer.

“I do fundraising for my council seat and that’s 100 percent my right. He donated to my campaign,” he said, referring to a contribution from developer Jimmy Gamal.

“$2,500 is quite a lot of money. Would you recuse yourself from the vote or refund the money?,” Franco continued, noting that’s more than he’s spending on his whole campaign.

“He chose to donate. They don’t have to. If they want to, that’s fine. We don’t bend people at the knee, that’s not how it works: I don’t sell myself,” said Perez.

“I’m recusing myself because I’ve had a 30-year relationship with the business owners there. You never have your facts straight,” La Pelusa said.

While La Pelusa indicated he had accepted a donation, New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission records show that Gamal gave $2,500 to Mayor Jimmy Davis on May 26th of last year and $1,500 to 2nd Ward Councilman Sal Gullace on November 3rd, 2021.

Nonetheless, Franco had two gigantic, golf tournament sized checks to illustrate two $2,500 donations and he and La Pelusa continued their back-and-forth until the council challenger’s left the podium.

“Is the property clean? Is the property not clean?,” resident Dave Solari said.

“It is not clean at this time. That would be part of the project to clean it,” Council President Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski. “It would be oversaw by the EPA (U.S. Environmental Agency)

Law Director Jay Coffey explained a remedial action plan to remove toxins from the ground would be established to bring the property up to proper standards.

“That property has been contaminated since it’s been years and years way before some of us were even born,” resident Dave Solari said.

“I know the mayor is for it. I know Mr. Carroll is definitely for it, so it’s a political hit already. So, I just feel it shouldn’t be.”

Resident and former municipal employee Gail Godesky criticized Davis since he has been talking about a pause on development until after the May 10th municipal elections, yet projects continue to get approved.

Special Redevelopment Counsel John Wyciskala said the plan is for six stories and 320 units, though technically 16 stories are permitted on site

“It does open up for 16-story warehousing on the site,” Council President Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski noted.

“The underlying zoning would allow the 16-story building. That application has been withdrawn. If there is no redevelopment plan passed on the west side then you could do that,” indicated City Planner Sue Mack, who said that item was not on the agenda.

1st Ward Councilman Neil Carroll, another one of Davis’ running mates, explained why he felt the council should make an exception for this project.

“While the the mayor’s call for a pause and for a study has occurred, this item has been on our agenda now for several months. It has been kicked down and kicked down the road,” he explained, noting he actually suggested a development pause a year ago.

“There was supposed to be several planning board meetings where there would be public input. That did not occur. I would classify it as a holdover, and as a result, I vote aye to move this along.”

Gullace and Perez also voted yes, La Pelusa recused himself, and Ashe-Nadrowski voted no, for a 3-1(1) approval.

“This plan is incomplete. It leaves an opening for a 16-story warehouse. There was no study done. The impact is going to happen,” she said before voting against it.

“Since Davis announced a pause over 2,900 residential units have made their way through the development process. Maybe Team Davis should visit the library and look up what pause means. We need a mayor who is willing to stand up for us and fight against developers who just want to profit off Bayonne,” she added in a statement today.

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