The Hoboken City Council held its annual reorganization meeting last night, unanimously appointing Jennifer Giattino as president and Peter Cunningham as vice president before a dispute began about who to appoint to the zoning board.
The meeting also included a lengthy debate on the appointment for the three seats on the Hoboken Zoning Board, as city council split hairs between Antonio Grana and Dan Weaver.
A few members of the public spoke out in support of Grana.
Tony Soares, a resident of Hoboken who once served on the zoning board, first criticized the council members for “shuffling people around” simply because “they don’t like the way certain zoning board members vote.”
“Antonio Grana is an outstanding candidate. He should remain on that board. I think getting rid of him is something that south of 7th Street … well you talked about diversity last year when you added Corey Johnson,” Soares stated, while pointing out the need for representation by someone who resides in downtown Hoboken.
Dr. Hany Ahmed also pointed out the need for diversity and members of the zoning board should be “spread out through the city.”
2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, who voted for Weaver, explained that her vote would be for a zoning board that “would protect the city and is more conservative than people would like.”
“We are going to make sure that we are going to get our zoning coded, and all this gets done this year. This is election year. It’s going to be really, really tough. It’s going to be a sh*t show,” expressed Fisher.
On the other hand, 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco fully supported the reappointment of Grana as a ZB commissioner.
DeFusco used “Fourth and Garden Street” as an example to point out that Weaver, who was the swing vote, voted against a flood mitigation and green infrastructure, “a design that is consistent with the historic integrity of that neighborhood.”
DeFusco further explained that due to Weaver’s vote, “what we got was a building with less architectural value, no green infrastructure and no continuity.”
Siding with Fisher, Cunningham explained that his support for Weaver is because he prefers the “policy perspective, the voting and opinions of Dan Weaver.”
As for Giattino, she too was in full support of Weaver.
“I thought it’s very important that the zoning board had an architect on board. I actually thought last year, that he was going to be a full member (as opposed to an alternate).”
“The north end of Hoboken, I think, is very important to all of Hoboken. Hopefully we are going to have a redevelopment plan this year and I am not willing to take any risks at residential being built there at an industrial area. Anything I can do to protect that, I will,” stated Giattino.
It was 5-4 vote for Dan Weaver to serve as Hoboken Zoning Board Commissioner with a four year term.
Councilmen-at-Large Ravi Bhalla & James Doyle, Fisher, Cunningham and Giattino voted yes.
Additionally, Diane Fitzmeyer-Murphy received a unanimous vote to become a commissioner, so Grana now serves as first alternate to the zoning board.