Despite a vocal opposition charge led by Larry Wainstein, the North Bergen Zoning Board of Adjustment approved an 11-story project for 8619 Bergenline Ave. at last night’s meeting.
“An attractive, iconic building: seven living levels, over three podium levels, plus one rooftop amenity, equates to 11 stories. We’re looking at 135 residential units,” began John McDonough, a licensed professional planner speaking on behalf of the development proposed by Marchetto Higgins Stieve.
“With a breakdown of 50 studios, at 580 square feet [each], 51 bedroom units at 750 square feet and 35 two-bedroom units at approximately 1,110 square feet.”
The project, which would also come equipped with a full access driveway and 156 parking spaces, had been in front of the zoning board two other times where residents expressed their dismay with both the height of the project and the parking spaces they would lose because of it.
Some residents voiced similar concerns during the public portion of last evening’s hearing.
“Where are you going to put all these extra cars so the people that come home are gonna be parking on what 3rd, 4th Avenue? I have a suggestion: the people that live there, give them a resident tag with like a red label on it or something that says ‘you can’t park on the side streets or you’ll be towed.’ This is ridiculous,” exclaimed Ronald Viole.
Larry Wainstein, who unsuccessfully ran a ticket against North Bergen Mayor Nick Sacco’s slate back in May 2015, helped pack the house for the hearing and was quick to take aim at Board Chair Anthony Vainieri during his time at the podium.
“This project is absurd. The integrity of North Bergen is going to be affected by this project. Vainieri, this project that you’re looking to approve is criminal – just like you’re destroying the rest of North Bergen,” he began.
“Paterson Plank Road where you and your family are involved. 55th Street and [John F.] Kennedy Boulevard: you were involved with that as well.”
Board Attorney Jack Dineen immediately chimed in to implore Wainstein to focus on the task at hand.
“Wait a minute: Mr. Wainstein!,” he exclaimed.
“Don’t interrupt my time,” Wainstein quickly shouted back.
“I am interrupting!,” Dineen shot back.
“No, you cannot interrupt my time,” Wainstein retorted.
“You can talk to this application or you can leave!,” Dineen hollered.
Wainstein also claimed that the project was “pre-approved” before yielding the floor to the next speaker.
A short time later, North Bergen resident Dean Broder made an interesting and unexpected offer to the board during the closing moments of his speech.
“I’m making a deal with you: I’m gonna be fair, I like a level playing field, I’m gonna let you know right now: you knock two stories off this thing and I’ll walk away from it. If you don’t, I’m going to metaphorically urinate all over these guys and it’s going to be bad.”
Following the public portion, Vainieri and Wainstein got into an epic war of words that would be a rare sight outside of North Hudson, with the latter nearly getting escorted out of the meeting by a police officer.
“The Vainieri family has no development in this town, whatsoever, in the world: so you’re a liar again, number 1. Number 2, you came to this board for a 12-story building on Tonnelle Avenue years ago. No, you can’t answer,” Vainieri, also the chair of the board of chosen freeholders, said as Wainstein attempted to respond to him.
” … You came before this board for a 12-story building so you’re a phony, you’re a fake and you’re a liar to these residents: you’re a developer too. You just think you can pay everybody to come here to our meeting to chant and clap for you: you’re an idiot! You’re ridiculous! See this chair: you’ll never be in it.”
Wainstein, who had been eagerly awaiting to respond, couldn’t wait a moment longer to fire back.
“You are one of the most corrupt politicians in the State of New Jersey!,” Wainstein retaliated.
“Officer, if he talks, he’s out of line, have him removed, please!,” Vainieri yelled.
“Sir, if you address me, I get an opportunity to speak,” Wainstein said calmly.
“No you don’t,” Vainieri answered. “Yes I do,” Wainstein insisted.
“I’m responding to you, you can sit down,” Vainieri said, refusing to give an inch.
After they each accused one another of hanging around “corrupt politicians,” an officer finally gently removed Wainstein from the podium, though allowed him to remain in the chambers until the conclusion of the meeting.
When the smoke settled, the board approved the measure unanimously (7-0), with no one opting to explain their vote.
The full hearing, which lasted for about an hour, streamed live on our Facebook page and can be viewed below: