At last night’s Bloomfield council meeting, an ordinance to amend the township’s financial agreement with the Parking Authority failed to move, adding yet another roadblock to Bloomfield’s redevelopment plans.
It is the most recent setback to the redevelopment, following the July 3rd filing of an appeal by developer Cary Heller, who is escalating his fight against the redevelopment after having lost a court battle in May.
The amended ordinance had passed 5-2 on first reading at the June 18 council meeting, with councilmen Nick Joanow and Carlos Bernard voting no. Last night councilman Michael Venezia also voted no, and the 4-3 vote failed to move because it required a super-majority of 5 votes in favor (two-thirds of the council) in order to pass. Mayor McCarthy at first declared the amended ordinance had passed and was reminded of the 5-vote requirement by Parking Authority attorney Joe Baumann.
Bonds and notes in the amount of $16,010,000 have already been issued by the Bloomfield Parking Authority, which is an independent entity whose debts are subject to the township’s guaranty if it defaults. The amended ordinance would have added another $3 million to this amount from the township, while changing the maximum amount the township would guaranty for the project from $25 million to $22 million.
Prior to the meeting, residents Russell Mollica, Jim Wollner, Carol Humphreys and Sue Ann Penna all spoke against the passage of the amended ordinance, citing the risk to the taxpayers if the Parking Authority defaulted on its debts.
Michael Venezia stated that “this Parking Authority has been a constant problem” since it was formed, and said that he intends to put the abolition of the Authority on the agenda for next week’s conference meeting, a statement that prompted cheers from the audience.
Nick Joanow brought up the fact that he had just learned there was contamination on the construction site for the redevelopment that would cost $500,000 to remediate, and questioned why this was only recently discovered.
Community Development Director Glenn Domenick said afterward that the failure to pass the Parking Authority ordinance effectively blocks the construction of the parking deck, a key element of the Bloomfield Center redevelopment project.
Another ordinance pertaining to the redevelopment, which separates responsibilities for the retail and residential portions of the development between Bloomfield Center Urban Renewal, LLC and Avalon Bay Communities, Inc., did pass unanimously on second reading.
The council also approved a redevelopment plan for Block 243, a group of lots bordering Broad Street and Liberty Street, as well as a portion of Bloomfield Avenue. This redevelopment area, which includes the building currently occupied by Annie Sez, wraps around Liberty Street up to but not including the State Street Grill. The plan calls for a mixed use retail and residential development, which may include up to 140 residential units.
Also at last night’s meeting, Linda Malone, Director of Personnel, was unanimously approved to act as the interim Township Administrator until a new Administrator is found. Joseph Catalano was appointed to the Business Advisory Board and Mark Anthony Remollino was sworn in as a member of the CATV Board.
The next council meeting will be a conference meeting to be held at 7 p.m. next Monday, July 23, 2012 in the second floor conference room in the Law Enforcement Building.