Hoboken City Council appoints Rev. Anthony Forbes as Housing Authority commissioner

Council also reintroduced new cannabis regulations regarding grandfathering

The Hoboken City Council at their May 4 meeting. Screenshot via City of Hoboken on YouTube.

The Hoboken City Council has appointed a new Housing Authority commissioner to replace a long-time member, reintroduced new cannabis regulations regarding grandfathering, and approved the leasing of the Jubilee Center for the Hoboken Public School District.

New Housing Authority commissioner appointed

The council unanimously voted (with Councilman Michael DeFusco absent from the Wednesday night meeting) to appoint the Rev. Anthony Forbes to the Housing Authority for a five-year term, where he will replace Chairman David Mello.

Forbes is a well-known Hoboken native and is currently the shelter manager of the Hoboken Shelter. The council members and a few members of the public praised him for the past work he’s done.

“He’s an amazing man,” said Councilwoman Jen Giattino. “His work at the shelter is unbelievable. He took me on a homeless outreach with him. Everyone knows him. He’s so impressive how he deals with people that are not in the greatest situations. Everyone seems to be able to relate with him.”

The council members also gave thanks to Mello for his service, who was on the board for a decade and was also a former councilman up until 2017.

“I think the world of him,” said Mello in regards to Forbes. “I know that people who know Reverend Forbes far better than I think the world of him as well. I have no doubt whatsoever that he will make a wonderful, empathetic and invaluable addition to the board of commissioners at the Hoboken Housing Authority.”

Afterwards, Mello added that Forbes, who is Black, should have been selected last June for the board, when the council appointed Council President Michael Russo, who is white, to the board in the midst of discussions over the lack of diversity in the Housing Authority leadership.

New cannabis grandfathering regulations

The council voted to reintroduce new cannabis regulations regarding grandfathering. The ordinance had been initially introduced at the previous council meeting, but was reintroduced to add a new amendment.

The overall ordinance says that existing medical cannabis dispensaries that want to sell recreational cannabis would have to get approval from the local Cannabis Review Board and the Planning Board.

The dispensaries can apply regardless of other previously proposed or approved facilities in the city or ward, and would also exempt from the proximity limitations from other dispensaries or primary or secondary schools.

Lastly, any approved dispensaries that sell both medical and recreational cannabis would count as one facility in calcuating the new cannabis store limits for up to six city-wide and up to three per ward.

The amendments made were to clarify that any applicants cannot be approved by the city until 12 months after final approval by the state of New Jersey to sell medical cannabis, to comply with state law.

The council voted 5-3 to introduce the ordinance, with Giattino and Council members Tiffanie Fisher and Ruben Ramos voting no. They then voted 7-1 to refer the ordinance to the Planning Board, with Giattino voting no.

The Planning Board found that the ordinance is consistent with the Master Plan, according to Board Secretary Patricia Carcone. The ordinance can now be put for second reading and adoption.

Other legislation

The council unanimously voted to allow Mayor Ravi Bhalla to lease the city-acquired Jubilee Center to the Hoboken Public School District for additional classroom space. The lease will last for five years and will cost $15,250 per month.

In a press release issued the day after the vote, the city said that the school district will use all three floors of the center from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., while TRUE Mentors will continue to use the building until June 30. In September, the school district will have access from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m..

An ordinance adding new regulations to the Cannabis Review Board that would’ve expanded it to seven members and require a community host agreement to be voted on by the council was voted down 3-5, with Giattino, Fisher and Ramos voting yes.

For updates on this and other stories, check hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Mark Koosau can be reached at mkoosau@hudsonreporter.com or his Twitter @snivyTsutarja.