West New York Planning Board votes down measure to reexamine master plan

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After hearing an outcry from several residents who live at the Versailles Apartments on Boulevard East, the West New York Planning Board unanimously voted against a measure to reexamine the master plan. 

“Master plans need to be reviewed at a minimum of every 10 years. Your master plan is three years old – typically you don’t do a reexamination report on that new of a master plan,” said Board Planner David Spatz.

“It’s certainly possible to do because the 10 years is really the minimum that they recommend, you can do that at any time – depending on conditions as they change.”

Revenue and Finance Commissioner Gabriel Rodriguez was the first person to speak out against the resolution, saying that the needs of town residents need to come first – not developers.

“My concern is that looking into reviewing the master plan, which as we’ve heard, is only three years old and is due for seven [more] years … looking to appease not the residents of West New York, but developers who are interested in development.”

Despite a heavy downpour outside, the meeting was packed with concerned residents who feared reexamining the master plan would pave the way for a 15-story, 109-unit building at 6605-15 Boulevard East.

The project was proposed by Novus Landmarks West New York and has a pending applications in front of the zoning board of adjustment.

Both Joan Palermo and Pat Cullen questioned the planning board about where the resolution came from, with Board Attorney Robert Ferraro providing minimal clarity on the matter.

“One of the board members asked for the reexamine. That’s where is came from sir,” Ferraro responded to Cullen.

“One of the board members? Okay,” Cullen answered.

“I don’t remember who it was, but one of the board members asked for the reexamine,” Ferraro repeated.

Further dialogue between the two indicated that the agenda item was introduced “well before August,” according to Ferraro.

Mayor Felix Roque also expressed frustration about the ambiguous nature of the resolution’s origin, urging the board to vote against a reexamine.

“I find it [in] very bad taste, I find the word nefarious, somebody said that word: you can’t do that, you can’t do that because these are taxpayers – these are people that have to get out of the house and come into this crazy place – it’s not fair,” the mayor exclaimed.

“Before something like that happens, I recommend making a phone call to us, myself, I’m still the mayor, I need to know what’s going on because it impacts on their lives.”

Roque also said it would be “ridiculous” to take another look at the master plan, given the strain it would put on local taxpayers after the master plan was just completed in 2015.

Board Chair Clara Brito-Herrera, also the superintendent of schools, said that she couldn’t encourage the board to approve the resolution since there were no details available on the costs associated with a reexamine.

“To push something into somebody else’s budget, that’s already been set, and that had line items that are particular to certain expenses, and you could incur hundreds and thousands of dollars on something that is not needed – as per our expert – I would be totally irresponsible as a board member … to encourage that we approve it tonight.”

3 COMMENTS

  1. Big thanks to Mr. Heinis, the residents who came out and especially the Planning Board for ensuring our protocols and policies are treated with integrity. This issue is near and dear to us. It’s about much more than the details of development. It’s about trusting our local officials, our quality of life and our pride in our neighborhood.

  2. Thank you for your coverage of this important matter, John. The Planning Board did the right thing last night but I hope the board seeks clarification and further information from its own attorney about how this resolution came about.
    It’s disconcerting that no one on the board claimed to know anything about who proposed the resolution and the board’s attorney – when he finally admitted that it was he who put it on the agenda – claimed to not recall who told him to do so. Maybe the board should consider hiring a more competent lawyer.

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