City council squares off over PILOT agreements

The council tabled one agreement and introduced another

The Bayonne City Council met remotely for the last time at its April meeting.
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The Bayonne City Council met remotely for the last time at its April meeting.

The Bayonne City Council squabbled over payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) agreements at its April meeting.

It tabled a PILOT agreement between the city and SWL Urban Renewal LLC for 69-71 New Hook Road. The council withdrew the ordinance from the agenda at its February meeting, citing the length of the agreement.

The tabled agreement was for the site of the current Delta Storage, where a new “flex-use” warehouse and office space will be constructed by Sixth Wave Logistics.

“This is going to be tabled because our financial advisers are still reviewing the numbers there,” City Council President Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski said.

Recently, Ashe-Nadrowski noted that the city has tasked financial advisors with reviewing financial agreements to ensure they benefit the city.

“They had some issues with them,” Ashe-Nadrowski said. “So we’re going to table this until next month’s meeting.”

The council voted unanimously to table the ordinance.

Flip-flopping?

Later, the council voted to introduce another PILOT agreement, despite having similar issues as the PILOT that was tabled earlier.

The agreement would be between the city and Bayonne Equities BII Urban Renewal LLC for 9-11 West 12th Street and 281-289 Broadway. The agreement is for the site where a 10-story mixed-use development will be constructed on the corner of West 12th Street and Broadway.

The term of the agreement is for 20 years. Third Ward City Councilman Gary La Pelusa questioned its length.

“We had talked last year about only doing 15 years for residential,” La Pelusa said. “I’m standing my ground; I don’t even want to move this if its 20 years.”

Last year, the council adopted an ordinance limiting PILOT agreements to twenty years maximum. At that meeting, the council pledged to lower the maximum to 15 years this year.

Down to 15 years

“We did say we would go down to 15,” Ashe-Nadrowski said. “I think we should move this down to 15.”

She suggested moving it, then adjusting it before the next meeting in May. “I would say we should continue with it, and we’ll have it addressed and get the new details. We’ll pass it now, send it back, and then vote on it in its final form which will be 15. Because I think we’re all in agreement that that’s all we really want. We want nothing more than 15 years for these type of buildings.”

La Pelusa questioned why the council would pass the ordinance now if it is still written so that the term is 20 years.

Ashe-Nadrowski said that “the terms can be changed. It doesn’t matter either way.”

Staying consistent

“You’re kind of adopting this for the first go around, almost like it’s false pretenses,” La Pelusa said.

Ashe-Nadrowski agreed and changed course, noting that it’s similar to what she said in February about the PILOT that was tabled earlier in the meeting.

“You’re right, because I said the same thing about Delta Storage,” Ashe-Nadrowski said. “I was the only one that said it that time, but yeah, you’re right.”

La Pelusa said the ordinance can be introduced next month after the length is reworked.

“We’ll weigh it out then,” La Pelusa said. “But I think now, it’s just that, as a whole, this council said we were going to do something. We really should stick by it. So I would not vote on this the way it is now. If you want to continue the vote, you can do that. But I just don’t think that’s the right thing to do.”

Committing to a 15-year maximum

“I agree with La Pelusa wholeheartedly,” Ashe-Nadrowski said. “Although we didn’t put a time on when we we are going down to 15, I think now is time. We said in this year sometime, and the first quarter seems like the right time … I’m going to be consistent, like I did for Delta Storage where I didn’t want it out there with the terms not up there, and I’m going to vote no.”

But the resolution passed 3-2, with First Ward City Councilman Neil Carroll, Second Ward City Councilman Sal Gullace, and City Councilman At-Large Juan Perez voting in favor of it.

“I totally agree with Gary on this,” Perez said. “I understand what Sharon says. We’re going to send it back, hoping it comes down to 15. If it doesn’t come back to 15 when we do it again, I will vote against it.”

A public hearing for the ordinance will be held at the next Bayonne City Council meeting on May 12 at 7.p.m. To attend, go to bayonnenj.org and click on the event on the calendar webpage.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.