Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis’ three running mates on the city council are saying they plan to vote down Council President/mayoral challenger Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski’s plans to start over on a 1,250-unit project at the former Military Ocean Terminal.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Ashe-Nadrowski said last week that she planned on introducing two resolutions and one ordinance to issue a request for proposals for redevelopment of the Bayonne Bay East District, declaring the deal with Bayonne Urban Partners Renewal null in void, and rescinding their payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreement.
While those proposals were up in the air at the time, they appeared to get the green light after the planning board okayed just a preliminary stage of the project at Tuesday’s marathon meeting, allowing Ashe-Nadrowski to introduce the measures at yesterday’s council caucus.
They were all introduced by Ashe-Nadrowski and seconded by 2nd Ward Councilman Sal Gullace and while 1st Ward Councilman Neil Carroll motioned to rescind the ordinance, City Clerk Madelene Medina said that was not possible.
“Once again, Neil Carroll has shown that he doesn’t want public participation at council meetings. This is not the first time he has voted against the public’s right to be heard,” Ashe-Nadrowski said in a statement, referencing Carroll voting not to allow the public to speak on the Caschem redevelopment and against mandating public input on the first reading of ordinances.
Law Director Jay Coffey and John Wyciskala, the city’s redevelopment counsel, objected to the resolutions and ordinance and tried to bring the meeting into a closed session to discuss, but that was again blocked by the clerk since a closed session was not publicly noticed.
“It feels like the city’s attorneys care more about the developer than they do the city. I am not sure they understand they represent the city not the developer,” Ashe-Nadrowski added.
“I intend to fight to have a full and open discussion on this project; in front of the public and not in some backroom where attorneys and my fellow council members can hide.”
While Ashe-Nadrowski succeeded in getting the local legislation on the agenda, it is likely all for naught as the three council members running with Mayor Jimmy Davis said today they will vote against them – a distinct possibility HCV noted last week and again yesterday.
The Davis campaign said in response that Carroll, 3rd Ward Councilman Gary La Pelusa, and Councilman-at-Large Juan Perez would vote no.
I will not stand by and let Sharon Nadrowski cost each and every Bayonne taxpayer thousands of dollars to further her political agenda,” Davis said in a statement.
“Let’s be perfectly clear here: if the city tries to exit this contract we will get sued and we will lose, but even more dangerously it would create a precedent for other developers to sue. Bayonne taxpayers would be forced to pay thousands of dollars more every year to pay for this costly mistake by Nadrowski, and I will never let that happen. Not over my dead body!”
The mayor’s campaign contends that while the redeveloper agreement had a closing date of November 3rd, 2021, the clause to make the agreement only exists if the city and state meet certain conditions that must be met prior to the sale.
These conditions include providing a highway access permit, and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection waterfront development permit and the extension of certain utility improvements to the site.
Furthermore, while Ashe-Nadrowski has said the original PILOT was for 850 units, not 1,250 units, the redeveloper agreement was amended to say the project will include 1,250 units – which cleared the city council unanimously (5-0) in 2017.
The project has become politically charged since 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.
Expectedly, both sides closed by jousting over the implications related to the non-partisan May 10th municipal elections.
“The bottom line is that Mayor Davis and his team are going to defeat Nadrowski’s ridiculous resolution, save Bayonne taxpayers millions of dollars and prove that Nadrowski is the wrong choice for mayor,” said Team Davis spokesman Phil Swibinski.
“Asking the developer to pay its fair share in taxes and for the purchase of the land value is about standing up for residents and taxpayers. They don’t deserve to be short-changed by a big developer. They deserve a city council and a mayor that will fight for them,” stated Ashe-Nadrowski.
As long as the two resolutions and one ordinance are defeated by the council, the Peninsula at Bayonne Harbor project are scheduled to be be heard in full at a special planning board meeting on Election Day.