Picardo loses battle for post-construction zoning, will appeal

A zoning application that would have retroactively allowed a home expansion for former Hoboken Tax Collector Louis Picardo was denied last night, just barely, in a 4-3 vote to allow the application. Five votes were needed.
At the final hearing last night, Zoning Board Chairman Dominic Lisa and Commissioners Jose Ponjoan, Alex Corrado, and Randal Underwood voted to allow variances that would have given Picardo permission after the fact for a home expansion that he completed last year, without the proper zoning. (The construction was found to have been allowed due to an interim zoning officer’s error.) When a Stop Work order was rescind ed last year, a judge told Picardo that he could continue building at the risk of having to tear down the structure if his application failed. Last night, the application failed.
Grace Bertone, attorney for Picardo, said after the meeting that there is a “100 percent” chance that they will appeal the case; the grounds for the appeal are not yet known.
The Zoning Board will produce a resolution summarizing their denial.
Commissioners Murray Fusco and Joseph Crimmins were absent from the hearing, so alternate members Mike Novak and Tony Soares voted in their stead. Both Soares and Novak sided with Commissioner James Perry in denying the application. Lisa and Underwood came under question during the proceedings since they have their taxes done by Picardo’s firm, but both were comfortable voting on the measure and maintained that neither had a conflict of interest, a decision board attorneys left up to them to decide.
Ponjoan said at the meeting that the city made a mistake in issuing the original zoning approvals and that Picardo shouldn’t be held accountable for a mistake a zoning official made.
It is unknown whether Picardo will be asked to tear down the expansion now that his bid for a retroactive permit failed.

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