Stop rushing votes on controversial Jersey City redevelopment plan | Jersey Journal Editorial


What is the rush?

A nonprofit community group and their lawyer were correct in asking this question this week as the Jersey City Planning Board voted to forward zoning changes to City Council that would pave the way for the construction of a controversial building in 17 floors next to Berry. Lane Park.

Tuesday’s vote was the second bite to the apple for the Planning Council on the issue after a judge ruled over the summer that its members were too hasty and unclear in their approval the first time around.

This time, members attempted to point all their I’s and cross all their T’s by voting to send amendments to the city‘s Morris Canal redevelopment plan to council, which could pass them before the end of the year.

The problem with this is threefold.

First, if council approves the changes before giving final approval to a revised inclusionary zoning ordinance, Skyline Property Group’s massive project would be kept at 5 percent of its units earmarked for affordable housing instead of the 10 percent. cent that would be required under the new regime.

Why let this project slip through the door, which has so clearly many oppositions from the neighborhood and is already fueling fears of gentrification?

Second, the building proposal was one of Ward F’s big issues ahead of last month’s mayor and city council elections, and ward voters rejected both Mayor Fulop and Ward Councilor Jermaine Robinson. , both in favor of the plan.

As Fulop was re-elected across town, he was beaten at Bergen-Lafayette by newcomer Lewis Spears, and Robinson lost to local activist Frank “Educational” Gilmore in the first round in a three-way race. Spears has made the need for more affordable housing the centerpiece of his campaign, and Gilmore, who takes office Jan. 1, is contesting the plan.

Voters are clearly unhappy with the status quo. Why not give them the courtesy of having at least Gilmore on the board when the issue arises and not putting it on the agenda for next week’s meeting?

It will still be Fulop-majority advice in the New Year, but Gilmore will have a greater ability in power to try and work on a few adjustments.

Third, we are entering the heart of the holiday season. It is frankly improper to let the council advance a plan for years at a time when many community members are already being pulled in too many directions.

Speaking of which, it was shocking Tuesday night that the Planning Council lawyer blocked public comments from all members of the nonprofit Morris Canal Development Corp., claiming that because they had hired a lawyer , he and he alone would speak for them.

This tendency for public councils in Hudson County to cut off speakers in the middle of a sentence or categorically refuse to let them speak is deeply troubling.

In fact, over the years, many decisions have been overturned by judges on the grounds that they failed to notify the public of an upcoming vote or that they failed to let people voice their concerns. But that wasn’t until they got caught.

We hope MCDC attorney Bill Matsikoudis and the group’s board of directors review the legality of the speaker ban on Tuesday evening to see if, in light of this, the planning council’s vote was legal and restrictive.

Another redesign may be in order.

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