The Hoboken City Council voted to allow a 5 a.m. opening times for bars for the Women’s World Cup, along with slight changes as part of rat control plans, during a short virtual special meeting yesterday.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“Because of the location of the World Cup, and this has happened before, two years ago we were in the same instance and the council did similar action to allow businesses to open earlier in the day to accomodate games being shown,” began Council President Emily Jabbour.
“But it does include a process in terms of rule making around how it is a business can ask for that permission so that it’s not detrimental for the quality of life for neighbors. It doesn’t allow you to project it at 5 a.m. outside of a bar.”
She added that current local regulations do not allow Mile Square City bars to serve alcohol before 10 a.m. The measure also indicates that music can not be played in the early morning hours, only the commentary for the games.
1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco, who sponsored the prior ordinance to allow bars to open earlier for the Men’s World Cup, said that the way the current local legislation is written, a 5 a.m. opening time could be justified for any event in perpetuity.
“I don’t personally view that as a bad thing, I view that as an amazing opportunity for the city. However, the people of the 1st Ward, the families, the seniors deserve a quality of life that we unfortunately do not have on account of a lackluster enforcement of drunk behavior on our streets on weekends,” he said.
“We’ve been very close to the Sunday football street parties, which I, again, supported, but I do think that until our police, until our public safety director, are willing to accept the fact that quality of life in my neighborhood is not where it needs to be, I cannot vote [for it].”
That prompted Jabbour to ask Business Administrator Jason Freeman if DeFusco’s assessment of the ordinance was correct, to which he said that while the ordinance is in perpetuity, it’s only in relation to the Men’s and Women’s World Cup.
DeFusco said he appreciated the clarification, but he said that the 5 a.m. opening time was still a non-starter in the 1st Ward.
The ordinance and related resolution were both approved by a vote of 7-1, with DeFusco voting no and 6th Ward Councilman Jen Giattino absent.
“The regulations the City has put in place, including not allowing customers to gather and celebrate outside during the early morning hours, as well as allowing only game volume during that time, and requiring a registration process with a fee for bars and restaurants to keep track of participants, will ensure quality of life concerns are met,” city spokeswoman Marilyn Baer said today.
1st Ward council candidate Rafi Cordova, back on July 11th prior to first reading, also called on the council to vote against the measure.
“While it is important to support our small businesses, 5:00 a.m. is simply too early for bars to open, especially on weekdays. It is not fair to our 1st Ward residents who already deal with the noise and other quality of life issues resulting from having a large number of bars in the neighborhood. I call on the City Council to vote no.”
For the measure related to rat control, the council was considering allowing the city to provide notice to any property owner in writing that rodent baiting/pest control services are required within seven business days, instead of 14.
“If the property owner does not perform the services or advise the City of intent to perform said services after receipt of the second notice, the City may have the services performed and bill the property owner, which may be paid directly to the city within 30 days,” the local legislation says.
“If not paid directly to the city within 30 days, the city may cause a lien to attach to the property.”
During public comment, Pat Waiters said the rat problem could be mitigated by temporarily closing streateries, something that was suggested back in March when the council approved a $35,140 contract for rodent control services.
Rose Marie Markle then asked who determines if a property should be baited and what the criteria is for this procedure.
“Since I love on a block with a bar, that street hasn’t been cleaned under that bar in over three years, so God knows what’s living under there, I see the rats under there everyday and then they wonder into other people’s areas when they’re done eating there,” she stated.
“We need to do something about that, you have to clean the streets regularly. Also, another problem is, I don’t know if any of you deal with it, but I deal with it, when they pick up your garbage, just toss it. If they miss the truck, oh well, it just lays in the middle of the street.”
Freeman then explained that this specific ordinance was related to the Health Department and their duties.
“If the Health Department shows up at someone’s property, they review it from a public health standpoint to determine that there needs to be some sort of efforts to be taken to mitigate the rodent problem – they will give you directions on what their expert opinion is in terms of how that should happen,” he noted.
He said that he could not speak to what exactly they were looking for, pointing out that a comprehensive breakdown will be sent to residents soon, also pointing out that there will be another special council meeting on August 3rd to address how garbage is stored and disposed.
The ordinance and related resolution was unanimously approved 8-0, with Giattino absent.
Before adjourning, 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher asked if the August 3rd special meeting at 5 p.m. was really necessary since members of the public aren’t made aware and that it would also only be the difference of two weeks.
Jabbour said that the administration’s position is that the rat situation needs to be addressed immediately, deferring further comment to Freeman.
“I think the motivation for the administration was to move these through a little bit quicker, get them implemented before the end of the summer, but ultimately I defer to the city council if you would like to wait until August 23rd, that’s the prerogative of the council.”
Fisher added that she would like to see Nixle alerts issued to promote the special meeting, to which Freeman said he had no issue with that.