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Public Advocate: Legal muscle needed to stop land-taking abuses

State laws that allow governments to take land for private redevelopment are being misused and need to be reformed to protect private property owners, the public advocate said in a report released Tuesday.

Public Advocate Ronald L. Chen urged the Legislature in his report to stem the abuses that violate private property owners' rights by amending the state's overly broad redevelopment laws.

"New Jersey's laws governing the use of eminent domain for private redevelopment are written in a way that leads to abuse," Chen said in the report. "When the government misuses this important redevelopment tool, people can lose their homes without real evidence that their neighborhood is blighted, without adequate notice or hearings, and without fair compensation."

More delays for Hoboken's Southwest Redevelopment plan

More delays for Hoboken's Southwest Redevelopment plan
May 17, 2007 JJ

The Hoboken Southwest Redevelopment plan may face further delays, as state Superior Court Judge John O’Shaughnessy remanded it back to the planning board because a witness was not sworn in while giving testimony to board.

The judge ruled that planning consultant of Heyer, Gruel & Associates had not been sworn while giving testinomy at a board hearing last year.

The board was considering a blight study that was required to declare the southwest of Hoboken an area in need of development. The planning board must now hold another public meeting to rehear the tesimony under oath.

But the judge did not rule on the substance of the complaint. One of the plaintiffs, Dawn Zimmer, who is in the run-off for the Fourth Ward City Council seat, has been calling for more park space as well as reduced density of development. She said she wants a traffic study and flood study completed before the plan is finalized.

Councilman Peter Cammarano, who also is a member of the planning board, said it is extremely unlikley that the final outcome would change, and that the decision was based on a technicality.

NJ.Com Comments:

7048. Port-O-Podium Pete loses in Court
by TrutzFirst, 5/16/07 9:52 ET

Members of the Southwest Parks Coalition (Stojovic, Soares, Gregorios, Zimmer and a few others ) filed to throw out the testimony of the city's "expert testimony"

The judge sided with the Plantiff's because the "experts were not sworn in. Any amateur could figure that one out.

What was Councilman Preppy Pete doing that night? Did he leave his law book home?

Was he fixing his Burberrey Tie?

Or was he absent that day at Seton Hall "Law School"

Now they SW Redevelopment zone has to start from Scratch.

All because Preppy Pete was too stupid and not paying attention.

Dave Roberts looking down a long, lonely road

It looks like it's the Last Tango in Hoboken for Mayor Dave Roberts. Yesterday's City Council election results left Roberts without any real support on the municipal panel, a fatal diagnosis for the remainder of his lame duck term in office.

Monday, Roberts said it himself.

"If (Frank) Raia and (Ron) Rosenberg get blown away, I'd be disappointed," said the mayor of the races in the Third Ward and First Ward, respectively. It is safe to write that Roberts is very disappointed.

Dashing the mayor's hopes were the two incumbents - First Ward Councilwoman Theresa Castellano, a six-year tormentor of Roberts, and Third Ward Councilman Michael Russo. Russo is a member of the "Voice For All Hoboken" council members who joined together to battle the Roberts administration.

Russo and Castellano took the brunt of the campaign attacks by the administration. The literature's mantra was that the Russo family is corrupt and that they are part of a plan by Union City Mayor and Assemblyman Brian P. Stack to take over not only the Mile Square City but Hudson County.

$1G for public drinking! Hoboken sticks it to 500

HOBOKEN - When police suspected a St. Patrick's Day parade reveler of carrying a plastic cup containing beer, they slapped him with a $250 fine for drinking in public as part of a citywide crackdown to prevent rowdy and lewd behavior from ruining the day.

Because the officer had not checked a box on his ticket requiring a court appearance, Hoboken resident Stephen DeSimone, 27, simply mailed his fine a short time later.

But to his surprise, he received his check back along with a notification of a mandatory court appearance. And then the judge threw the book at him, doling out the maximum $1,000.

DeSimone said the judge told him he could take his case to trial - but then he could face a 90-day jail term if found guilty.

"We weren't intoxicated," DeSimone said, describing himself and a friend who were issued tickets. "We weren't doing anything out of line."

City officials confirm that DeSimone was one of nearly 500 people who received fixed-penalty tickets at this year's parade only to find themselves appearing in court and slapped with the maximum fine.

HOBOKEN TAX COLLECTOR - With loophole shut on disclosures, he misses deadline

HOBOKEN - The city's tax collector thumbed his nose at the City Council and mayor this week after refusing to file a financial disclosure form as required under a city law approved in March.

Louis Picardo, who makes roughly $112,000 a year as the city's tax collector, had previously refused to file a disclosure statement, which requires officials to list sources of income and interests in property.

A city code enacted in the 1980s specifically requires a tax collector to file, but Picardo and others said they received an opinion from then-city attorney Joseph Sherman stating the state's local government ethics law enacted a decade later had invalidated the local code.

The March ordinance was unanimously approved and specifically mentions 25 city positions that are required to file the statements, along with members of the city's various boards and committees already required to do so under state law. City Council members made it clear that the ordinance was intended to close that apparent loophole.

Council likes Roberts appointee

HOBOKEN - The city has hired a new corporation counsel during election season, when relations between the mayor and city council appear even more strained.

The mayor appointed Steven Kleinman, 32, last week, the same week the City Council angered the mayor by voting 7-2 on a resolution to abruptly end professional and engineering contracts because of overspending in those areas.

Council members said they support the new appointment. Councilman Peter Cammarano, III, who was at Seton Hall University School of Law with Kleinman, described him as a "top-notch" lawyer.

Hoboken cancels contracts

HOBOKEN - The City Council voted Wednesday night to terminate all professional service contracts, ratcheting up the tension between council members and Mayor David Roberts, who called the vote a "reckless act."

The council voted 7-2 to adopt sweeping resolution to immediately cancel all the contracts, citing budget concerns. Councilwoman Terri LaBruno and Councilman Michael Cricco were the two "no" votes.

After questioning from Councilmen Ruben Ramos and Michael Russo, Business Administrator Richard England said spending on legal and engineering services had exceeded the budget, with two and a half months left until the new fiscal year.

Three out of four incumbents go down in Hoboken

HOBOKEN — Board of Education President James J. Farina was re-elected tonight, but the other three incumbents were swept out of office.

With 97 percent of ballots counted and not counting absentee or provisional votes, Farina received 1,260 votes. Challengers Carrie Gilliard had 1,074 and Rose Marie Markle had received 943. They will serve three-year terms.

Tricia Snyder was elected to fill a one-year unexpired term.

Fists fly at Hoboken City Hall

HOBOKEN — Tensions within City Hall exploded into a brawl between the mayor and the city clerk this afternoon, several sources told The Jersey Journal.

But Paul Swibinski, a spokesman for the mayor, denied there was a fight and said it was simply a heated argument between old friends, wildly embellished for political reasons.

Two police cars were dispatched to City Hall in response to reports of a scuffle, but nobody made a formal statement, according to police sources.

According to sources who requested anonymity for fear of reprisal, there was an exchange of punches between Mayor David Roberts and City Clerk and School Board President James Farina.

Hoboken's robotic garage faces new delay

HOBOKEN - After three months, the patience of customers hoping to return to the Garden Street automated garage by the end this month will be tested a little longer.

The company that contracted to get the futuristic garage at 916 Garden St. up and running again is unlikely to meet a March deadline announced by the Hoboken Parking Authority.