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Bayonne council again tables eminent domain ordinances

The fight continues over the operations of Bayonne Medical Center. Photo by Daniel Israel.
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The fight continues over the operations of Bayonne Medical Center. Photo by Daniel Israel.

At its July meeting, the Bayonne City Council again tabled two ordinances to condemn the Bayonne Medical Center property through eminent domain.

The reason is that the state Local Finance Board did not act on the matter at its meeting earlier in the day, according to City Council President Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski. That board must approve the ordinances before the council can adopt them.

“We’re going to postpone this,” Ashe-Nadrowski said at the July 14 meeting. “Local Finance had a meeting this morning and did not act on this. Until they act, we are unable to take any favorable action, so we are going to postpone this until Local Finance takes it up.”

The council voted unanimously to table both ordinances.

The council will meet again in August, when it may vote on the ordinances if the Local Finance Board approves the matter by then.

Dead in the water?

It is unclear when and how the Local Finance Board will act, if it does approve the matter, allowing the council to vote on the ordinances.

Right now, it appears the ordinances would not pass.

Ashe-Nadrowski opposes the ordinances, citing the burden they would put on taxpayers and the failure to explore other options. Second Ward City Councilman Sal Gullace will abstain due to a conflict of interest, because he is a board member at Bayonne Medical Center.

This means the ordinances, which in this case require four votes in favor to pass, would fail, even if the rest of the council voted in favor of adopting them.

A quick rundown

CarePoint Health has been selling its assets, including Bayonne Medical Center. In November of 2019, Avery Eisenreich, owner of nursing home operator Alaris Health, purchased the real estate of Bayonne Medical Center.

CarePoint has been searching for an operator for the facilities ever since, signing a sale agreement in 2020 with BMC Hospital LLC to operate Bayonne Medical Center. Meanwhile, Hudson Regional Hospital in Secaucus closed on the purchase of the real estate of Bayonne Medical Center from Eisenreich for $76 million.

Since the sale has closed, Hudson Regional has made clear its intentions to operate the hospital, not BMC Hospital LLC. This has sparked a war between the two entities over who will run the operations.

Eminent domain proceedings

In May 2020, the Hudson County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to approve three resolutions authorizing the Hudson County Improvement Authority (HCIA) to begin the eminent domain process on the Bayonne Medical Center property.

At its April 2021 meeting, the city council introduced two ordinances that would continue proceedings that began last year.

However, at its May 2021 meeting, the council did not approve the ordinances. After hours of presentations from all entities, public comment, and council member questions, the council tabled the ordinances, citing a need for more information.

The council again tabled the matter in June, pending approval from the state Local Finance Board. The council may act on July 14, if the Local Finance Board approves the matter at its meeting earlier that day.

At the caucus city council meeting on July 7, city bond attorneys explained the ordinances and the potential ramifications, ahead of a potential vote at the regular council meeting.

Previous delays

The Local Finance Board was set to vote on the matter on June 8. However, both Hudson Regional and BMC Hospital LLC submitted new proposals regarding eminent domain on the same day, so the board tabled the matter.

Hudson Regional sought to avoid eminent domain by offering the city a right-of-first-refusal should it ever sell the property, seeking to rectify concerns that the hospital would allegedly not remain an acute-care facility under Hudson Regional’s operations.

BMC Hospital LLC reiterated its offer to cover the monthly debt service on the related bonds that would condemn the property through eminent domain, and added it would cover a number of additional costs and initiatives.

Residents can attend the council meeting in person or watch online. For more information, 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.

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