Several West New York residents voiced their utter disdain for the town zoning board of adjustment at Wednesday evening’s board of commissioners meeting.
Criticism ranged from the process in which members were appointed to the board – whose members were accused of being either incapable and/or unwilling of independent thinking – to developers bribing officials in order to get projects approved.
Early on, West New York Mayor Felix Roque explained that it is extremely difficult to get competent, caring residents to dedicate their time to a volunteer board.
However, that explanation didn’t seem to hold water with residents who live near the proposed Meridia project, which could be erected near the intersection of 67th Street and Boulevard East.
In what has become standard procedure, Commissioner Count Wiley, a 2015 mayoral challenger for Roque, harshly criticized his top political adversary on the subject – claiming Roque had a hand in facilitating much of the development in town.
Town spokesman Pablo Fonseca explained that all board vacancies are posted on the official town website, where candidates typically then meet commissioners and an interview process takes place.
He also stressed the appointments aren’t done by Roque himself, that all appointments are pending a vote by the board of commissioners.
“This is a volunteer position that can get very hostile, so we appreciate all the people who come in and give their time to the town. I completely disagree that anyone is taking money or doing anything improper (when it comes to development in West New York), Fonseca said .
“The board of commissioners do not tell the zoning board how to vote, they’re an independent governing body,” he also clarified, later stating, “responsible development is ideal for a town of the size and location of West New York.”