The North Bergen Board of Commissioners heard complaints about overdevelopment and poor planning from around 60 residents who attended Wednesday’s meeting.
The Concerned Citizens of North Bergen, a recently-formed group opposing the “overdevelopment” of Tonnelle Avenue, including a liquor license application for a new store near Walmart, turned out for the meeting, which is normally sparsely attended.
“The reason why I’m here is for the same reason most of the people are here tonight,” said Michael Kreutzer. “Construction affected the road long before Walmart or any of those stores even came into this area. Now with the addition of those stores, the amount of traffic funneling in and out of that complex has definitely multiplied the problem tenfold. I guess my main point is, this isn’t Paramus, and we shouldn’t be building the Garden State Plaza on Tonnelle Avenue.”
“We shouldn’t be building the Garden State Plaza on Tonnelle Avenue.” – Michael Kreutzer.
Mayor Nicholas Sacco said he and Police Chief William Galvin would look into the traffic flow in that area.
Vanessa Fredz said the cause of heavy traffic and speeding through side streets was poor development planning. Sacco said that was not the case, that ratable growth (meaning, more taxable properties) had been “phenomenal” and that a recent poll showed that 75 percent of residents agreed.
“The problem you are having is the construction on Tonnelle, which is a state problem,” said Sacco, referring to street improvements that the state has been working on in the area. “It’s a state project we’ve been living with. They promised that the job would be over in 2009 and we’re still struggling with them.”
Sacco told residents the state would give North Bergen a project report next month on construction, and that a future state project to build an overpass from West Side Avenue to Tonnelle Avenue along 69th Street would alleviate some of their traffic woes.
“You have to also wonder if adding another liquor store is safe, the young crowd that goes around price shopping drunk on a super busy street,” said Fredz.
Sacco said the commissioners had no authority over the liquor store, nor could the Alcoholic Beverage Control board vote against it without a good reason. He said he did not believe the store would add more under-the-influence drivers.
Abatement ordinances passed
Three different ordinances involving future tax abatements were approved by the commissioners (except for Commissioner Theresa Ferraro, who was absent.) A tax abatement is an agreement between a developer and a municipality allowing the developer to pay a negotiated, separate fee to the city rather than paying regular taxes. The fee sometimes comes close to the same amount as regular taxes would be, or more, and can be based on a percentage of the developer’s profits. The abatements are often controversial because the fee goes directly to the municipality, leaving other taxpayers to pick up the tab for school and county taxes.
The commissioners passed a general ordinance “authorizing long-term tax exemptions” which will enable the township to award retail and residential abatements to developers who meet certain criteria, such as redeveloping a blighted area.
The ordinance outlines two payment options. The first would allow the developer to make payments in stages beginning at 20 percent and increasing over time to 80 percent. Township Administrator Christopher Pianese said the township plans to use a second option to collect payments based on a percentage of gross revenue.
Two other ordinances that were adopted for 30-year financial agreements specifically referred to the commercial and residential components of Urban Renewal, LLC, located near 56th Street on Kennedy Boulevard.
The first was for 164 rental units, which, based on a projected $2,689 per unit, will bring in an annual service charge estimated at $441,000. The second ordinance pertains to 17,247 square feet of retail space in the project. According to the ordinance, the town expects to collect a fee of $87,000 during the first “stabilized year of operation.”
According to the agreements, certificates of occupancy must be completed within the next 18 months in order for it to be valid. They also state that around 150 construction jobs and 60 full and part time jobs will be created.
Resident Herbert Shaw objected to all of the ordinances, stating that he did not believe they were fair to the rest of the town. Pianese said that the township will be making almost double the amount in taxes when compared to conventional taxation. (That’s partly because the amount will not be split with the county and schools.)
Approves auction of River Road land
A town auction of three small lots along 7711-7815 River Road owned by North Bergen was authorized through an ordinance. Pianese said the owner of 7601 River Road LWH, LLC asked the township to sell its property to the company so they can use the land for their planned project of 300 residential units and retail.
However, the company must potentially compete with other bidders. Under the ordinance, bidding for the land will start at $1.7 million. All adjacent property owners will be notified, and the successful bidder must complete any construction and necessary approvals by Dec. 31, 2012.
Emergency snow removal approved
Outside contractors hired for snow removal during the Dec. 26, 2010 blizzard were paid through resolution.
M.B. Paving & Excavating Co. was paid $1,600, and Westside Transload, LLC received $12,915. West Side Auto Wreckers and John’s Main Auto Body were paid $22,277.50 and $10,300, respectively.
Tricia Tirella may be reached at TriciaT@hudsonreporter.com.