Bayonne amends zoning regulations to make parking changes

Two ordinances amended parking requirements for industrial uses and removed the Parking Deficiency Schedule

Bayonne has made some changes to zoning regulations applying to parking. The City Council adopted two ordinances authorizing the changes at its October 19 meeting.

The first ordinance corrected the minimum space requirement for industrial uses. The uses specifically involve manufacturing, laboratory, warehousing establishments and truck terminals.

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The ordinance updated the section on those industrial uses to read one minimum space per “employee or 1,000 square feet, whichever is greater.” It previously required one space for “200 employees of 1,000 square feet, whichever is greater.”

Read the full ordinance at: bayonnenj.org/_Content/pdf/ordinances/O-22-34.pdf.

Another ordinance that was adopted eliminated the Parking Deficiency Schedule. Previously, the schedule was in effect in the Broadway Corridor of the Central Business District, the Broadway Corridor of the Uptown Business District, the High Commercial and Selected Light Industrial District, and the Transit Overlay District.

In the past, buildings that did not meet the parking requirements could either obtain approval of a parking space variance, or pay for the deficiency. After the first 10 spaces, the rates used to be $500 per space for 11 to 20 spaces, $1,000 per space for 21 to 40 spaces, and $2,000 per space for 41 and above spaces.

Read the full ordinance at: bayonnenj.org/_Content/pdf/ordinances/O-22-35.pdf.

Parking requirements clarification

During the public hearing for the first ordinance, former city employee and resident Gail Godesky was offered explanations by City Council President Gary La Pelusa.

Godesky asked what building this was referring to, to which La Pelusa said they were general requirements.

“There’s one minimum space per dwelling unit,” La Pelusa said. “Would you like a copy?”

“I would like to know now what you’re approving,” Godesky said, seeking an answer from the council during the public hearing.

“I’m going to tell you now, but I can get you a copy,” La Pelusa said.

Before La Pelusa could explain the ordinance, Godesky stated that their public dialogue could have been averted had the council discussed the ordinances at the caucus meeting.

“The sad thing is, Mr. La Pelusa, that at the caucus meeting, caucuses are primarily to discuss ordinances,” Godesky said. “But at your caucus meetings, everybody’s heads are down, nobody’s giving any explanation. It would make it a lot easier for us who come here to ask questions if we knew ahead of time exactly what the ordinance means.”

La Pelusa explained the gist of the overall parking requirements in the zoning regulations, even though the ordinance only amended the requirement for specific industrial uses.

“Okay Ms. Godesky, so there’s a one-bedroom apartment, the minimum space is one parking space,” La Pelusa said. “Two bedrooms is one and a quarter. Three bedrooms is one and a half. For senior citizen housing minimum spaces are half a space.”

Officials say they’re not removing parking, only adjusting regulations

Godesky asked if the ordinance was taking away parking spaces from residents. La Pelusa said this was the off-street requirement for parking spaces that have to be provided along with any buildings. She followed up by asking why senior citizens parking only required half a space per resident, to which La Pelusa noted that was for housing specific to senior citizens.

“It doesn’t make any sense,” Godesky said. “They’re the ones that need the parking space closer to their homes.”

“This says senior citizen housing,” La Pelusa said. “A lot of those people, I would say the majority of, don’t require parking.”

Godesky disagreed. “I just feel like you’re taking parking spaces away from the residents.” La Pelusa replied, “I beg to differ. We’re not taking anything away. We’re actually making minimum requirements.”

Resident Mike Ruscigno asked if apartments were considered industrial uses, due to the fact that the council’s agenda specified that the ordinance would only be amending the requirements for industrial uses. City Clerk Madeline Medina noted that the ordinance encompassed all of the requirements, which La Pelusa echoed.

“It should say industrial and residential,” La Pelusa said.

Second Ward City Councilwoman Jacqueline Weimmer asked for further clarification: “Could we get some clarification? So Ms. Godesky did bring up a good point. Is it that we are instilling a requirement for a number of spaces that was not there previously, or are we reducing that requirement? I think that clarification is what we’re looking for.”

According to La Pelusa, the ordinance had to do with minimum requirements.

“When we talk about minimums, for some of these there is no change,” La Pelusa said. “This is how the ordinance already read. So we’re not taking things away. But sometimes, if you don’t put a minimum, you don’t have something specific that these developers will have to build for. And that’s the reason why we do these ordinances for parking.”

Discussion to continue at next public hearing

La Pelusa then finally clarified the ordinance amends the parking requirements for certain industrial uses.

“So this is for manufacturing, laboratories, warehousing establishments and truck terminals,” La Pelusa said. “It says each employee or 1,000 square feet, whichever is greater… That’s the only change that’s happening.”

Weimmer agreed: “That’s correct. And that’s how I viewed it also.”

“I was explaining all of the things that we’re in the ordinance,” La Pelusa said.

Weimmer offered to get a copy of the ordinance to Godesky or any resident who wants one. Godesky thanked the council after her questions and the ordinance was unanimously adopted.

The discussion over the changes continued at the public hearing for the second ordinance related to parking requirements in zoning regulations. La Pelusa explained that this ordinance removes the ability to pay a fee to park on-street if a building has insufficient off-street parking.

“So there used to be a Parking Deficiency Schedule which would allow people who were, let’s say to add onto their house, they would have a minimum requirement of parking to provide,” La Pelusa said. “If they add on to the house and they are locked in, there’s no way they can add to the parking.”

As such they can pay a fee to get out of the situation. But La Pelusa said that is no longer the case under this ordinance.

“That’s kind of unfair to the people who live around there.” In response to Godesky asking if the city was losing revenue from this, La Pelusa said it was not.

Missing out on ‘minimal’ revenue from fees

Godesky argued that the city was in fact losing money, to which La Pelusa said the income from the fees from the Parking Deficiency Schedule was not that large.

“But the city is still losing money?” Godesky asked again.

“The money was minimal,” La Pelusa said. “It was a one-time charge. And we get more complaints about parking than anything. Everything is not about dollars and sense.”

“I understand that, but the bottom line is, we all know that parking in this town is terrible,” Godesky said. “Double parking is causing accident after accident.”

“That has nothing to do with this,” La Pelusa said.

“Well it does, because we have no parking period,” Godesky said.

La Pelusa explained that this aimed to help the parking problem.

“We wouldn’t allow somebody to add a floor onto their house and put extra parking in that one location and allow them to pay a one-time fee and have extra parking on that block,” La Pelusa said.

Godesky asked if this would prohibit residents from removing porches to install car ports, to which La Pelusa said that it would not.

“If you already have a parking space, you’re allowed to have a parking space,” La Pelusa said. “But if you add a third or fourth floor on, now you have more people living there. And those people were able to pay a one-time fee, sometimes $500 one time, and then be allowed to just park however many they wanted on the street.”

He concluded: “So now we’re saying if you’re going to add, you have to have the parking. You can’t just pay your deficiency fee.”

After the discussion, the council adopted the ordinance unanimously.

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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