Planner gets the boot

The mayor’s office in Jersey City is looking to replace a Jersey City Planning Board member who does not live in the city, an official said last week.

Carmelo J. Sita, a commissioner on the board since 1994, lives in the Union County town of Mountainside, and is a registered voter there. In the past, he had listed his home address as the address of a union office in Jersey City where he had once worked. It is unclear whether he ever lived there. The fact he does not live in Jersey City means he may be violating a 1998 law that explicitly requires members of the board to be residents of the municipality.

Tom Gallagher, Mayor Bret Schundler’s chief of staff, said last week that the city will try to have a new member in place by the next regular Planning Board meeting in January. They also plan to reappoint several members who are serving expired terms. Gallagher would neither confirm nor deny whether any other members beside Sita will be replaced.

Sita’s residency status came to light during an attorneys’ meeting before a Hudson County Superior Court judge. Hoboken and some activist groups have filed suit to stop a developer interested in raising a high-rise building near the Hoboken border.

Sita sat on the Planning Board that approved the rezoning of that area and paved the way for the Millennium Towers proposal.

Gallagher said the city confirms residency status at the outset.

“When we do make appointments originally, we do check residency,” he said. “But if someone within the term of their office moves, it’s difficult to confirm.”

Sita, however, listed his address at 3218 Kennedy Blvd., which houses union offices, and, the Zoning Department noted, is not zoned residential.

Gallagher contended, “It was communicated to the mayor’s office that Sita had a residence at that address.” Sita last week signed a court certification statement regarding his residency.

That certification will be reviewed by Hudson County Superior Court Judge Jose Fuentes. The statement may play a role in the outcome of the case against Millennium Towers, a 43-story high rise project that both Hoboken and others seek to quash.


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