The state of NJ, even though they haven’t a clue about how to get COAH workable at the moment, made darn sure that municipalities had to submit their COAH plans by Dec 31, dammit. Or else.
Well, in Englewood, a Planning Board assembled by the Mayor himself, Michael Wildes, made sure the City found out what the “Or Else” meant. You see, the City Council made sure they sent their COAH plan to the Planning Board in time to meet the deadline. ( In Tenafly we realized our plan wouldn’t be perfect either, but we had to meet the unrealistic deadline – we would definitely have to revise and amend the plan later due to the extremely unreasonable pressure placed on us by the incompetent Keystone Cops of COAH in Trenton.) Well, because the Planning Board decided not to hurry, the City missed the COAH deadline. And so, guess who was waiting in the wings to profit from the “apparent” oversight and late filing?
Hekemian. Business partner of one Mike Kasparian former President of the company.
Before you could blink, they hit Englewood with a lawsuit – a builder’s remedy lawsuit, about not having a COAH plan. Now remember, TRENTON dictated the unrealistic deadline and Englewood missed it by mere days. “How ConVENient!” the church lady would say.
The reason why this is SO infuriating to Englewood Dems and the reason they voted to REJECT the election of Kasparian to the BCDO Chairman is that they have a history with these guys. HKT attempted to take over downtown with emininent domain. The K in HKT stands for Kasparian.
Here is a little story about Englewood and emminent domain from 1999, just ten years ago:
In 1999, the City of Englewood designated a 60-acre redevelopment zone, and began working with developer Hekemian Kasparian Troast LLC (HKT) on a plan to replace an industrial area with an office/retail/residential development. Under the $500-million proposal, HKT would cover all of the City’s costs in condemning properties and relocating the displaced businesses. Also, the developer would own and manage the development. In order to accommodate HKT, City officials claimed that the properties targeted for condemnation were blighted and had caused a steady erosion of Englewood’s tax base. However, the City’s own study of the area found that active businesses occupied, or had plans to develop in the near future, more than 97 percent of the properties within the redevelopment area. The study also determined that only three of the 37 properties were poorly maintained, and only one building was not occupied and productive. Furthermore, most of the disputed land was located within one single office-industrial park that generated 1.2 million per year in property taxes. In June 2001, 19 of the targeted property owners sued Englewood, seeking to reverse its 1999 designation and stop HKT’s attempt to steal their land. The owners argued that the City’s own findings contradicted the claim that there was ‘lack of proper utilization of land, which was necessary to justify eminent domain. Those issues never got decided, however, because the owners discovered that the City had failed to publish a proper notice of its 1999 hearings. The lack of notice was a “fatal defect,” ruled Judge Jonathan N. Harris, a New Jersey Superior Court judge. The judge dismissed the condemnation actions.
At first, City officials retaliated with a smear campaign in which they distributed fliers portraying the challenging property owners as greedy individuals willing to use “scare tactics” to preserve their “tax haven.” David Ulrich, one of the owners, explained why he brought the lawsuit: “I don’t think anybody down here is against the concept of redevelopment. Our concern from the beginning is, “Do not threaten to take away our properties.” City leaders implied that they would simply approve another plan, without making any technical mistakes this time. In the end, however, HKT came up with a modified development proposal, one that won’t require condemning property. This project features 350 apartments, an 11-story office building, three retail structures and a parking garage, and can be accomplished without the City resorting to eminent domain.
It was just a technicality that saved Englewood property owners temporarily from condemnation of their properties for the private gain of Mr. Kasparian. Some Democrat.
You also may remember why Hekemian was in the news recently in Englewood:
Michael Wildes got to help dispense “gifts” from Hekemian to his favorite charities in Englewood just a month or two before these same “humanitarians” slapped the very same city with a COAH builder’s remedy lawsuit they apparently had in the works BEFORE the City even missed the Dec 31 deadline. For land located in a COMMERCIAL zone.
Like I said – “How ConVENient!”
So, how is Joe Ferriero related to this story? He was HKT’s land use attorney.
What is really sad and infuriating about this whole saga for Englewood is that they have actually built affordable housing there. They were acting in good faith to submit their plan on time. But the Mayor’s minions saw fit to leave the door wide open for the fox to get into the henhouse.
I don’t care if Kasparian supported Obama. I hardly think Obama, who was a community organizer in Chicago, would approve of the way, Mr. Kasparian and his friends treat a City’s residents and business owners so cavilierly for profit. It shows to me a willingness to profit off of others backs, to twist government for that aim and to take from those who have less than you. That is not a Democrat, my friend. THAT is a Republican.
If the Rs were in control right now, how much would you bet, Kasparian would be one?