Year: 2014

News

Administrative law judge overruled with technical ethics violation ruling against Ravi Bhalla

=&0=& =&1=&

The saga of what constitutes an ethical violation in Hoboken is again back in the news with an almost five year old saga of a continuing contract involving Councilman Ravi Bhalla and a former office mate, Paul Condon who ran independent law practices.

The ruling by the NJ Local Finance Board overruling an administrative law judge tossing the allegation out is part of a four year plus ethics complaint questioning Bhalla’s vote on a unanimous approved continuation of a contract in the Andriani case by attorney Paul Condon. Read More...

News

Das Pump to pump you out; ta ta ta two timez

City of Hoboken announces:

=&0=& =&1=& State Issues Action Plan for $230 Million Rebuild by Design Comprehensive Flood Strategy

On Tuesday, December 16, 2014, the Hoboken City Council voted unanimously to fund the construction of Hoboken’s second flood pump. The 40 million gallon per day H-5 wet weather pump station with emergency generator will alleviate flooding in western Hoboken, including the area around ShopRite. Read More...

News

Horse Sense: “Big” Government returns to Hoboken

When Mayor Zimmer faced with a personal dilemma about the future of Hoboken and skyscrapers backed by the power of Big Government, with one mighty voice she stood tall and said “no.”

That was facing down the Rockefeller Group, a Japan-owned consortium eyeing a magnificent tower 40 stories high and backed it appears by the most powerful levers of government in the State. As the Lt. Governor would later say, she would not apologize for jobs and economic growth re: progress.

Progress is the watchword as Hoboken stares down another government backed monolith but this one  far more powerful in NJ Transit. The City of Hoboken dared for some time to reverse course from the prior administration and argue against a proposed 70 story building surrounded by towers. To date, there’s been some success with Mayor Dawn Zimmer, she the willing fighter in court on behalf of Hoboken who says go ahead make my day. This time not everyone thinks the courts would ultimately be the place for Hoboken to place all its bets. Trenton could enter and ease the way at any time. Read More...

News

Hoboken Housing Authority Chair Dana Wefer addresses new efforts with HPD, generators installation and ED search

Courtesy of John Heinis, The Hudson County View:

In the absence of Hoboken Housing Authority Acting Executive Director Robert DiVincent, HHA Chairwoman Dana Wefer spoke about improving cooperative effort between the HHA and the Hoboken police department, the long-awaited installation of six new generators and the ongoing executive director search.

For the complete story see:

http://hudsoncountyview.com/hha-chair-wefer-talks-improved-security-generators-ed-search/

News

City Council Live – Rail Yards Development on tap

Note: The council meeting is captured here mid-meeting on the topic of NJ Transit and the City’s alternative plan.

Better late than never. Timmy Occhipinti is speaking on behalf why the City’s plan to work with NJ Transit’s development idea scaled back is a winner. He’s on fire, speaking strongly in favor of the revenue and other changes explaining why the plan is positive for Hoboken stating, “It’s substantially consistent with the City’s master plan.”  He’s opposed by members of the public in attendance advocating for nada. Read More...

News

Community: Memo from Mayor Zimmer to City Council Regarding Flood Pump & Hoboken Yard Redevelopment Plan

Office of the Mayor announces:


Community: Memo from Mayor Zimmer to City Council Regarding Flood Pump & Hoboken Yard Redevelopment Plan

Dear Horsey & MSV readers,


Mayor Dawn Zimmer sent the following memo to the Hoboken City Council regarding the H-5 wet weather pump and the Hoboken Yard Redevelopment Plan. The memo and attachment can also be downloaded at the following link: http://www.hobokennj.org/docs/mayor/12-16-14-Memo-Zimmer-Council.pdf 



December 16, 2014 


Dear City Council Members: 


I am writing to ask for your support for two important items on the agenda that both support our City’s effort to comprehensively protect Hoboken from flooding and help to support our transportation system. 


Flood pump: 
As the attached photo shows, the western side of our City flooded just last week, and has flooded significantly several times since Sandy. Funding for the flood pump on the agenda will help the entire western side of our City during major rain events as well as in the event of another storm surge. 


The City has secured a low interest loan from the State that offers interest rates below 1 percent, and we have been advised by the DEP that it will include 19 percent principal forgiveness on the total $11.9 million loan as part of a Sandy funding opportunity. 


The State has authorized NHSA to go to bid, but the funding bond must be approved in order to move forward. 


The portion of the loan related to the City Hall green infrastructure project offers 50 percent loan forgiveness. (This portion of the project is estimated at about $220,000 of the total $11.9 million loan). The City Hall green infrastructure pilot project is important to demonstrate to property owners and developers what can be done with existing buildings to reduce stormwater run-off and flooding in our city.


Last month, we held a community meeting with residents of Maxwell Place to address their questions and concerns. We provided a Q&A and also revised the interlocal agreement with NHSA for the project to include air quality monitoring. The Q&A can be found on the NHSA website at www.nhudsonsa.com/Public/H-5_WWPS/FAQs.pdf


This pump is a crucial component of the comprehensive Resist, Delay, Store and Discharge Strategy to protect our entire City from flooding. In fact, the Resist strategy that will protect our waterfront from future storm surges will need the flood pump as a protective measure. The pump will also help alleviate flooding during increasingly prevalent flash flood events. 


Mayor Turner and I have met with DEP Commissioner Martin and will meet with him again at 5:00pm today to advocate for the State to move ahead as expeditiously as possible with the Resist strategy to protect North and South Hoboken with the $230 million grant awarded from the HUD Rebuild by Design competition. 


Hoboken Yard Redevelopment Plan: 
Hoboken has a long history of community activism helping to transform proposed projects for the better, with our waterfront being the prime example. This project has similarly been transformed by City Council and community input. The original proposal supported by both NJ Transit and the past Administration was for 9.2 million square feet. This included a seventy story commercial tower, and would have added approximately 7,300 new residents to our community with several 40-story residential towers. 


Hoboken residents, some of whom are now City Council members, along with several of my Council colleagues at the time, raised their voices, and that project, which was on track to become a reality, was stopped and has been completely transformed. 


The original plan was not only supported by both NJ Transit and the previous Administration, but both took the position that NJ Transit had the legal right to build it even if Hoboken objected. In 2008, as a City Councilwoman, I, together with Councilwoman Mason, Councilman Russo, Councilwoman Castellano, and Councilman Cunningham, forcefully disagreed with this conclusion. In response, legislation was crafted in Trenton in 2009 to remove any ambiguity and permit NJ Transit to move forward with their own plans. Together, local officials successfully lobbied against this legislation. We then worked hard to create a completely new plan that would benefit the City of Hoboken rather than just represent the interests of NJ Transit and their developer. 


The new proposed redevelopment plan will revitalize our transit hub, bring jobs to Hoboken, add affordable housing, and provide funding for open space. It is also an important part of the flood mitigation plan that has received $230 million of federal funding. All of this will be accomplished while limiting residential development to approximately 950 new residents, a scale consistent with that area of Hoboken. 


Thank you to the City Council development subcommittee and the Council as a whole for working with my Administration on this redevelopment plan. Your leadership has and will continue to enable the City to shape this project in the best interests of Hoboken residents. Here are some of the reasons why I believe that it is important to move forward tonight with this plan: 


1. This project offers the opportunity to transform our transit hub. Given the fact that 56 percent of our residents take public transportation to work every day, more than any place in the nation, I hope that you will seriously consider the needs of our residents who commute on a daily basis. 


2. This plan offers the opportunity to bring jobs and create new jobs in Hoboken. Providing residents with more opportunities to work near where they live is one way to make our city less reliant on cars in the long-term. In addition, research shows that commercial development has much less of a financial impact on City resources because it does not expand the need for police, fire, and schools, as residential development does (For this very reason, I appreciate that the subcommittee stood strong and did not expand residential development despite pressure from the developer to do so). 


3. This plan offers the opportunity to require the developer to be a part of the flood protection system to comprehensively protect our City from flooding. It would require the separation of the stormwater and sanitary system, installation of pumps, and green roofs, rain gardens, and other flood mitigation strategies. 


4. Through the redevelopment agreement process, an analysis will determine a fair contribution to the open space trust fund. This funding could go towards funding a larger park in southwest Hoboken, the neighborhood that could be most impacted by this development. The plan would also require at least 4.5 total acres of street level public space and would create pedestrian plazas at Hudson Place and Warrington Plaza with a safe pedestrian zone, connections to various modes of transit, bicycle lanes and bicycle storage and shower facilities. 


5. The plan would create indoor public space that could be designated as performing arts space, accelerator space to support startup businesses, 3 bedroom units for our growing families, and at least 10% of units for affordable housing. 


As members of the Council subcommittee know, the City has to have an economically feasible plan that will stand the test of a legal challenge. While I respect the voices of our citizen activists, we as elected officials have an obligation to look at all the factors and understand that a plan that is not economically feasible will put the City at risk in any possible legal or legislative challenge. I want to thank you for funding our careful economic analysis performed by an experienced NYC firm to ensure a fair agreement for the City of Hoboken. 


The next step in the process, if the City Council passes the plan and if NJ Transit is interested in moving this forward, would be to enter into an interim cost agreement. Under this agreement, NJ Transit and/or their designated developer would be responsible for the costs of conducting future analysis needed to finalize the plan. Most importantly, NJ Transit and/or their designated developer would be required to fund a traffic study and traffic modeling analysis, to be conducted by a firm of the City’s choosing. This modeling would include an analysis of the traffic impact and the proposed changes such as the two-way service road connected to Marin Boulevard. 


Adjustments to the plan could be made based on the results of the analysis. This study can only be conducted once we know what the City Council will approve as a level of development. As you know, the plan proposed by NJ Transit has ranged from over 9 million square feet to 5 million square feet to 3.5 million square feet to 3 million square feet, with more than 40 percent residential and all of the residential located by the PATH. The City Council has settled on a very different approach, with the commercial located near the PATH and a much lower level of density, in particular for the residential development. Once the plan is passed, then it will be time to conduct this important and thorough traffic analysis. 


Given that the City of Hoboken has spent close to $300,000 on the legal, planning, and financial analysis for the plan, I hope you agree that it is now time for NJ Transit and/or their designated developer to fund the traffic study, which can only happen once a plan is passed and we have entered into an interim cost agreement. 


Please feel free to call me if you would like to discuss this further or if you have any questions in advance of the Council meeting tonight. 


Best regards, 


Dawn Zimmer Read More...

News

The Hudson Reporter and their friends

The holidays are upon us but the buzz yesterday rolled through here like an old diesel freight train with the whistle blowing down Washington St. the whole way. It was quite a ride all the way from up on 14th street where fascinating tales are woven with not sugar plums in the Hudson Reporter editor’s heads but a Mile Square City where developers rule the land with a mayor sleeping at the wheel or on the take, no matter which. Are we having fun yet?

After a full month snooze when the story broke, the Hudson Reporter finally did a story on Los Federales investigating the Hoboken Housing Authority. The story was an odd mish-mash of old news and a battery of old “Carmelo Garcia said” excuses. Read More...

News

Hudson Reporter: Mayor Dawn Zimmer to resign Reason: No reason

=&0=& =&1=& =&2=&

The Hudson Reporter’s political column, penned by Al Sullivan took Hoboken for a ride over the weekend. For those who read such tales, this one was a doozy. Speculating on a “rumor” of Mayor Dawn’s Zimmer unannounced but upcoming resignation, Sully journeyed on an odyssey at length who would follow her.

Lots of sellers in that rumor market and Sully indulged them – all of them.

Al Sullivan in some downtime performing a reading in Jersey City.
His political column last weekend took Hoboken for a ride last weekend.

The short answer to the question posed by the Hudson Reporter comes with Betteridge’s law of headlines in an adage that states, “Any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word NO.” Read More...

News

Councilman Ravi Bhalla: NJ Transit redevelopment, reval legislation, pump no. 2

Councilman Ravi Bhalla announces:

Dear friends and neighbors,
I hope this you are enjoying the holiday season with family, friends and loved ones. I write to provide you with an update on several important items the City Council will be considering at our next and final meeting of 2014, this Tuesday, December 16th.
New Jersey Transit Railyards Redevelopment Plan
The City Council will be voting to adopt a Redevelopment Plan for the New Jersey Transit Railyards site, which extends west from the Hoboken Train Terminal along the southern border of Hoboken. The City Council’s subcommittee on community development-south, working together with the Administration, residents and all stakeholders, has presented a mixed use plan incorporating commercial, retail and residential development. This project has the potential to transform the southern border of Hoboken in a positive way for generations, so I urge everyone to attend the Council meeting and make your voice and opinions known about the plan.
In my role as a Commissioner on the Planning Board, we thoroughly vetted the plan and offered 13 recommendations for the City Council to consider. The City Council held a special meeting of the whole on December 10th and heard from many members of the public regarding various issues, opinions and concerns about the plan. We have also heard from various stakeholders and many members of the public who have written or called us to offer their thoughts and opinions about the plan. So far, the most prominent concerns about the plans have been the height of certain buildings near the train terminal, traffic circulation and flow, and making sure the development does not erode the unique charm and character of Hoboken.
I share all of those concerns and more. The adoption of this plan is part of a larger process where residents will continue to play a role in what is ultimately developed at this site through a redevelopment agreement. The input from residents thus far has and will continue to be helpful in helping us fine tune the details of this development in the future, so I urge you to make your voice heard as we continue with the process in the days, months and weeks to come. Finally, I want you to know that I am considering this plan in the larger context of the prospective Neumann Leathers rehabilitation plan, the plan for a Southwest Park, and the Rebuild By Design Plan for protecting Hoboken from flooding and severe weather events.
The Hoboken Railyards Redevelopment Plan and additional documents can be downloaded at the following links.
Wet Weather Flood Pump in northern Hoboken
Another critical item on Tuesday’s City Council agenda is the consideration of a bond ordinance for the construction of a wet weather flood pump on the eastern edge of 11th Street in Hoboken. The Administration has been working closely with the North Hudson Sewerage Authority for the installation of this flood pump. This bond ordinance, if adopted, will allow for the construction of a flood pump which will have a substantial impact on reducing flooding in the western area of Hoboken. A PSE&G electricity substation also resides in this area of Hoboken and provides energy to other areas of Hoboken, so it is critical to ensure flood mitigation measures are put in place in this area for the benefit of other areas of Hoboken as well. To this end, it is encouraging to see that the residents of the Maxwell Place residential community have been engaged in this process and will continue to in the future. I am very hopeful we have the support from the community and City Council to adopt this ordinance.
Six Year Property Tax Revaluation Ordinance
Finally, we will be considering an ordinance that mandates the City of Hoboken to conduct a revaluation of property taxes every six years. Previously, the City Council and Administration had unanimously agreed to a yearly rolling reassessment of 25% of the property in Hoboken. As a result of concerns from residents about the impact and possible instability of this program, we are now considering mandating a revaluation every 6 years at a minimum. In the larger context, it is important for property taxpayers to know that there is equity in the process – that they are not being over assessed or under assessed relative to the market value of their properties. For this reason, mandating a revaluation at a minimum of every six years is a preventative measure from the shock many taxpayers felt from the first revaluation we conducted in 25 years in 2013. I hope this measure is supported by the public and adopted by the Council.
Thank you for your time in reading this update! If you have any questions, concerns or need assistance with anything, feel free to call me at 201-647-6090 or email me at councilmanbhalla@gmail.com 
Best wishes to you and your family for a happy holiday season and a happy new year!
Sincerely,
Ravinder S. Bhalla
Councilman-at-Large
News

Hoboken Police Chief Ferrante addresses several policing issues with media allegation of racial profiling

Hoboken Police Chief Ken Ferrante wasted little time addressing several policing issues after being sworn-in to the new role earlier this month.

In an interview with the Hudson County View, Police Chief addresses several policing areas with racial profiling one raised in an earlier media report. He dismisses the claim Hoboken fits the list explaining the data is limited.

As one might say, garbage in, garbage out. The interview comes courtesy of Hudson County View’s John Heinis.