Here is video coverage of Tuesday night’s public meeting of the Belleville Town Council.
Although this meeting was noteworthy and worth watching in its entirety for the many issues brought forward by the public, a couple of discussions deserve particular attention since not only are they important to Belleville citizens as a whole, they are directly related to two of our active issue campaigns.
- Diane Rothwell’s impassioned plea to the Council (timestamp is 45:40 minutes) to not force her and her 7 neighbors out of their homes on Cortlandt Street, an area that the Council has designated “an area in need of redevelopment”. This move appears to be the first step in what would likely lead to 11 families being forced out of their homes in favor of a developer’s plans to build 158 residential units on the Cortlandt and Joralemon block, something that doesn’t seem possible unless those homes were vacated. Residents report having been approached by a realtor who has insisted that this is all a done deal, and that they need to sell. The Council denies any knowledge of this, of course. The developer for the adjacent industrial lots came before the Council at the January 13, 2015 meeting to explain his intentions, and stated that only a PILOT would make his plans viable. The “area in need of redevelopment” designation is required to achieve this end, at a loss of tax revenue to the township. Why on earth would the Council be on board with a plan to push families out of their homes and give a huge tax break to a residential developer for building 158 more homes, when overpopulation is already such an insurmountable problem for Belleville? When more residential development is quite literally the last thing Belleville needs?
- Jeff Mattingly’s commentary (timestamp 1:11:13) regarding the potential use of eminent domain by the Council to forcefully acquire or legally commandeer the 24-acre undeveloped Kidde/Finkelstein property, owned by the Finkelstein family. For those of you who have been following this issue campaign, the immoral and in our opinion unlawful nature of this move goes without saying. I can assure you however, we’ll be saying much more about it.
In the meantime, pay very careful attention in the video to Councilman Kennedy’s justification for using eminent domain to acquire the Finkelsteins’ property. Evidently in his mind, disagreeing with someone’s business practice is grounds for confiscating a taxpaying citizen’s private property. Even Mayor Kimble, generally a rational man, apparently believes that because the township can squeeze more tax revenue out of the land — a silly assertion since it’s undeveloped land so technically anyone can generate more revenue out of it — it rightfully should belong to the Council.
Huh? What universe are these politicians living in? Do they even realize what they’re saying on the public record? I’m really beginning to wonder if annual senility checks should be a requirement for serving in public office.
Between this and the recent 13-minute Planning Board “Ramrod Meeting”, the level of arrogance on display here is unlike anything we’ve seen before. In this diseased political circus, that’s saying quite a lot. If I weren’t sitting behind the camera myself at these meetings, I would never believe any of it.
I’ll be publishing more extensive commentary on this particular issue next week.
Enjoy the video.
Update: Here is NorthJersey.com’s coverage of Fire Chief Caruso’s presentation to the public, discussions surrounding the recent fires, personnel and renovations, etc.
Belleville chief addresses concerns following recent fires
Coverage of last week’s fire on Heckel Street that sparked these heated discussions on municipal fire services….no puns intended whatsoever:
Fire burns Heckel Street homes in Belleville
Belleville firefighters: Staffing levels affecting response
Here is coverage from The Observer: