The Hoboken City Council has introduced legislation adding new permanent outdoor dining rules and acquiring property for the city’s new municipal works garage.
One ordinance would create a new chapter in the city code regarding outdoor dining, following temporary changes made due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It would create a general overview of all the outdoor dining rules into one chapter, including the current rules for sidewalk cafes and the measures for parklets and streateries that came as a result of the pandemic.
A number of residents were concerned however about the quality-of-life issues that the parklets and streateries have caused, such as parking, noise disturbances, and rat sightings. Some residents around First and Bloomfield Street also raised concerns about how the outdoor dining has affected the neighborhood.
“I am really dismayed that this is going forward without a vetting process that includes data on what is really happening in these neighborhoods,” said resident Ana Sanchez. “I really beg you to reconsider, because at this point, keeping your first ordinance is far superior than adopting something that has taken all the guardrails off of the parklets.”
Resident Al Timok questioned how the ordinance did not say anything regarding enforcement, and was concerned that it favors bar owners at the expense of the residents. He and a few others also pointed towards looking at how New York City is planning to phase out outdoor dining sheds in the near-future.
The first reading passed 5-3-1, with Councilmembers Michael DeFusco, Tiffanie Fisher and Jen Giattino voting no, and Councilman Ruben Ramos abstaining.
The council then introduced two ordinances to take steps in creating a new Department of Public Works garage at 1501 Adams St., the site of Poggi Press Printers. The steps follow the wake of the Monarch Settlement Agreement, where the city agreed to let Ironstate Developers acquire the DPW facility at 256 Observer Hwy. and turn it into a mixed-use development.
One ordinance would allow the city to acquire the tax blocks in the property, which was valued by an independent appraisal at $19,320,000. The city could either acquire it by direct negotiation and purchase or through eminent domain. Another ordinance would authorize $40 million in a bond ordinance to acquire the property.
The owner of Poggi Press, Charlie Poggi, was not pleased with the news however, saying during the meeting that he had negotiated with the city over the past seven months on the property, but was informed last week that the city was abandoning all discussions and would be moving forward with condemnation of the entire property.
“All I know is that the city wants to use tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to take my property away from me, and hire professionals of its choosing to redevelop the site in the same way that could have been done with private money,” said Poggi.
“I think I’m entitled to at least an explanation as to why seven months worth of work was just thrown out the window,” he continued. “There was absolutely no respect given to me or to my team that tried to put forth a good faith offer to the city of Hoboken, and then not even the respect to get a phone call.”
The ordinance to acquire the property and the bond issued were passed on first reading 5-4, with DeFusco, Fisher, Giattino and Ramos voting no.
An ordinance that would have lifted the city’s rent increase moratorium was removed from the agenda at the meeting. The moratorium has been in place since April of 2020 during the early days of the pandemic.
The planned hybrid city council meetings were also put up in the air, with Russo saying that if they don’t get the technology for it, they’ll go back to in-person meetings around mid-March to early April.
“I’m gonna give the vendor some time to see if we can get that equipment,” he said. “But if we can’t get that equipment in a timely manner, then I’m just going to make a decision and go back to in-person meetings and we’ll have to scrap Zoom.”