The Bayonne City Council has voted to postpone a vote and public hearing on a payments-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) agreement with a redeveloper for an 18-story high-rise on Avenue E.
The council voted unanimously to postpone the ordinance authorizing a PILOT agreement between the city and Ave E Dev Mile High AMS Urban Renewal, LLC. The financial agreement would support the proposed high rise that is part of the next phase of the Silk Lofts redevelopment, which also calls for a six-story building across the street.
The move came after it was requested by the attorney for the AMS Urban Renewal, LLC, Michael Miceli, who asked it be carried to March. The council received communications that another entity asked for a postponement.
As a result, the council voted to postpone other financial agreements it had introduced in January, including PILOTs with: 22nd Street Partners Urban Renewal, LLC for the adaptive reuse of the former Our Lady of Mount Carmel School at 25 East 22nd Street; 218-220 Broadway Urban Renewal, LLC for 218-220 Broadway at the former Delta Gas Station; and another with AMS Urban Renewal for the six-story building at 57-163 Avenue E.
Mayor James Davis had previously asked the council to vote down the PILOT after announcing a halt on most major residential redevelopment in the city outside of specific areas such as the former Military Ocean Terminal (MOTBY).
However, City Council President Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski motioned to postpone it, and that motion was seconded by City Councilman At-Large Juan Perez. The council then voted 5-0 to postpone the public hearing and vote on the ordinances until its March meeting. The council also voted unanimously to postpone the other PILOT agreement ordinances.
Ashe-Nadrowski is running for Mayor against Davis. And Perez, as well as First Ward City Councilman Neil Carroll and Third Ward City Councilman Gary La Pelusa, who also voted to postpone the ordinance, are running on Team Davis.
Council clashes over PILOTs, again
In a press release after the meeting, Ashe-Nadrowski characterized the rest of the council’s move to postpone the PILOTs instead of voting on them as more “bait and switch tactics” by Davis.
“Less than a week ago, Mayor Davis finally admitted that over-development was out of control,” Ashe-Nadrowski said. “Yet, it turned out to just be another broken promise. Last night his Council running mates rejected public input – not once, but in four separate votes. Once again, Davis is all talk and no action.”
In a statement in response to Ashe-Nadrowski, Davis campaign spokesperson Phil Swibinski countered by pointing to her track record of voting for PILOTs and redevelopments.
“Councilwoman Nadrowski can try to spin it all she wants, but she can’t change the fact that she has a nearly 100 percent pro-development voting record including voting yes on a PILOT agreement for the 18 story high-rise that Mayor Davis opposes,” Swibinski said. “The Mayor has made his position very clear: Bayonne needs to take a pause on new development to evaluate all factors and listen to residents, and this is only possible now because of the unprecedented success the Davis administration had attracting $80 million in new tax revenue to solve the city’s financial woes and create a brighter future.”
La Pelusa told the Bayonne Community News he has opposed the building since the council approved the redevelopment plan, and opposes the financial agreement as well considering his frequent opposition to long-term PILOTs. He said that even though it is not in his ward, approving the building would set a citywide precedent due to the height.
“I didn’t like the height of the building, and I’m really not a big proponent of PILOTs,” La Pelusa said. “I’ve always voted no on the PILOTs unless they were down on the base. So I stayed consistent through and that’s why I was against it. In January, both myself and Neil Carroll and I did not vote yes to even introduce them.
According to La Pelusa, the council’s move to postpone the hearing cooperates with Davis’ call for a pause on most major redevelopment and to not approve PILOT agreements supporting them.
“This is in line with what the Mayor said,” La Pelusa said. “And in my own case, this follows suit with what I’ve been doing for 12 years on the council.”
La Pelusa said if there was a vote in March he would vote it down, but added the stipulation that “anything is subject to change.”
Carroll calls for fact-based approach
Carroll told BCN he thought Ashe-Nadrowski was going to vote for the ordinance: “I would have assumed she was going to vote for it as she did so three separate times at two different meetings. When it came to the introduction of the land use, when we looked at what they wanted to do, I was against it. She was for it then. When it came to the first round of the PILOT, at last month’s meeting in January, when it was introduced, she voted for it there. On each occasion, she spoke in favor of it. So there’s no reason to believe that if it came to a vote, that she was going to vote against it.”
When asked if he would vote it down at the next meeting, Carroll did not specify if he would vote against it, due to potential negotiations to use union labor for the project.
“So they’re in talks with the union membership, they have concerns about it,” Carroll said. “My record is based off project by project, facts and details. I have been meeting with the community and I’m happy now that I was able to be a trendsetter and that they’re joining me now. I’m glad I could provide her team with a platform.”
He continued: “I’m still taking in the facts, and waiting to see what new developments come to light.”
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