The Bayonne Planning Board okayed the subdivision for a 1,250-unit project at the former Military Ocean Terminal at last night’s five-hour meeting, scheduling a special hearing for the bulk of the development on Election Day.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
The project also boasts 10,000 square feet of retail space, two parking structures, and a park and didn’t look like it would get any considering last night but Glenn Kienz, of the Weiner Law Group, pleaded with the board to give Bayonne Urban Partners Renewal at least initial consideration at about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday.
“We’re pleading, I would like, if possible, this application can be divided into a series of steps, we really do want to try and get moving and the subdivision part of it – if you don’t want to hear anything – takes all of about three minutes to actually do.”
Planning Board Chair Karen Fiermonte said she would have to poll the board since they typically did not hear applications after 9 p.m. and they were well past that.
“We just have to make a decision because although your presentation piece may be three minutes, the question and answer portion may take substantially longer and I think it’s only fair to poll the commissioners since we normally do not start any new applications after 9 p.m.”
After a brief discussion, they allowed the project to proceed with their first phase related to the subdivision only.
The project, which has been in development since 2015, has recently become a hot potato in the mayoral contest.
Council President Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski, also a planning board commissioner, began taking issue with the project after Politico reported that Wasseem Boraie, the developer of the “Peninsula at Bayonne Harbor,” donated $25,000 to the Government for the People super PAC founded by former state Senator Ray Lesniak.
The PAC was meant to aid Mayor Jimmy Davis’ bid for a third term, though went defunct after Sean Caddle, who was paid $2,500 on December 15th, pleaded guilty on January 25th to a 2014 murder-for-hire scheme that claimed the life of Jersey City politico Michael Galdieri.
Last week, Ashe-Nadrowski said she would be introducing three measures: one soliciting a request for proposals (RFP) for the redevelopment of the Bayonne Bay East District, a second declaring the redevelopment agreement null in void, and a third rescinding their payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreement at the April 20th council meeting.
Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis’ campaign has called the idea to start over “insane” since it would lead to litigation and ultimately cost taxpayers millions.
Back at the meeting, Kienz briefly examined Project Engineer Josh Klein said that the current 539,277 square-foot lot can be subdivided three ways to coincide with their future development plans.
City Consulting Engineer Andrew Raichle said this technique was commonplace at the MOTBY, noting that the KRE Group had done something similar at their Bay 151 site.
Fiermonte jokingly commended Kienz and Klein for holding up their end of the bargain with a roughly three-minute presentation before the board, including Ashe-Nadrowski, voted unanimously (8-0) to approve the first step.
With the particulars of the project still requiring review, Kienz asked if they could cover the costs for a special meeting to be heard in April, to which he was eventually told his only options were May 10th, which is Election Day, and May 23rd.
After a short discussion with his client, Kienz accepted the May 10th date.
“Hopefully we have a quorum,” Commissioner Michael Quintela said.
“There’ll be quorum,” Ashe-Nadrowski stated.
The two resolutions and one ordinance she had in store for next week’s council meeting would have been mostly symbolic if the planning board approved the full application yesterday, but since they didn’t the final council meeting before the election promises to be a barnburner.
Nevertheless, for the moment, there is no indication that Boraie will lose the project, given that 1st Ward Councilman Neil Carroll, 3rd Ward Councilman Gary La Pelusa, and Councilman-at-Large Juan Perez are all running on Davis’ ticket.
The Bayonne council will convene at City Hall, 630 Avenue C, next Wednesday at 7 p.m.