Teaneck Council Meeting May 7, 2019: Concerns over burgeoning development

“THE FIRST SHALL BE LAST AND THE LAST SHALL BE FIRST”

  • The Council’s all-important responsibility of passing its budget of $70,039,475 was not brought to the floor until after 11:00 PM when most people had left. Two individuals expressed concern over bonding a current expense of $750,000, which they felt more properly belonged in the current operating budget. The budget was passed unanimously and awaits review from the State.
  • The first item of business was a public service announcement from Health Officer Ken Katter reporting that there have been no measles outbreaks in Teaneck nor Bergen County. He explained he had clear State procedures in place to investigate the contacts of any individual reported as having the disease. Councilman Kaplan introduced a motion that would end the religious exemption, but he was persuaded to withdraw it by Councilman Dunleavey.  It may re-appear next month.

The largest part of residents’ concerns was over development issues –  some of which been have been mentioned many times in the past months. However residents felt the council has been insufficiently responsive. Plus Councilman Dunleavey indicated he was  working to create a broad strategic plan which would include the Master Plan.

  • NEW DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS IN THE ALREADY CONGESTED NORTH TEANECK. Cheryl Hall was concerned about traffic problem in the northeast particularly in light of an influx of some one thousand more residents in the area. Patricia Butler wanted to preserve the former PAL Building as a gathering place. She was opposed to building a senior citizen housing facility on the small former DPW structure on Teaneck Rd. because it’s a very busy thoroughfare. Some five other people had similar concerns including one about the new large complex under construction where the Verizon Building used to be. 
  • POTTY-PLEX EXTRAVAGANZA: This large field House was originally budgeted at about $800,00 but has grown into a $2 million project,  including two kitchens with high-priced equipment. Art Vatsky said we don’t need two kitchens. He cited  the county’s New Overpeck Park which is much simpler with two large bathrooms for males and females, one concession stand, and an overhanging roof next to fields for baseball and soccer/football. Juanita Brown felt money was being spent foolishly on the Field House. She has collected over 400 signatures opposing it. Alan Sohn was incensed over the increased costs and opposed two kitchens. Some felt the money would be better spent on improving the Rodda Center. Four others spoke out against the Field House. (See Overpeck photo. There is another facility in the park next to the outdoor stage that Mr. Vatsky described.)
  •  HOLY NAME HOSPITAL ENCROACHING ON A RESIDENTIAL NEIGHBORHOOD. Several residents were concerned over the hospital’s increasing actions to take down surrounding houses and build parking lots. The hospital appears to be disregarding the Master Plan which sets up a buffer area and is ignoring rules of the township code. As an example, after tearing down a hospital-owned house it built a shabby gravel parking lot ignoring township codes and not seeking the required variances. Residents had requested but not been allowed to join the committee discussions between the township and hospital officials. “If the Township will not enforce the laws and protect us, who will? We want action not words.” See photo of the parking lot. (In the background you can see the rear of a church and private homes.)
  • THE COUNCIL AUTHORIZED the Planning Board to conduct a preliminary investigation on two other new sites and to determine whether they should be designated as areas in need of Non-Condemnation Redevelopment. The sites are 1085 Decatur Avenue (a private home assessed at $213,000), and 329 Alfred Avenue, a vacant industrial facility assessed at $3,548,000).  
  • AS FUTHER INDICATION OF THE COUNCIL’S EXPANSIVE DEVELOPMENT EFFORTS it discussed in its private Executive Session acquisition of real property and/or investment of public funds in places not mentioned.

The Council announced the promotion of three key staff members: Dean Kazinci as Township Manager (salary $175,000); see photo above; Issa Abbasi as Chief Financial Officer (salary $120,000), and Douglas Ruccione as Acting Township Clerk (salary $65,000).

The Teaneck Democratic Municipal Committee will host “TEANECK INTO THE 2020’s: A Development Forum.” It will offer panelists with diverse points of view and an opportunity for the public to raises questions. Rodda Center on Wednesday, May 29 at 7:30. MARK YOUR CALENDAR.

Too much to unpack from a meeting of nearly four hours. You can access the AGENDA OUTLINE, PACKET, and VIDEO here: http://teanecktownnj.iqm2.com/Citizens/default.aspx.

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