MAYOR KRANJAC CALLS FOR SPECIAL MEETING. KEEPS PROMISE TO APPEAL AFFORDABLE HOUSING COURT RULING
According to Mayor Kranjac, “Be assured we plan to vigorously appeal the Court decision. I have called for a special town wide meeting to update all our residents. I want to get out as much information to our residents on this subject that I am permitted. I want them to ask questions and give them as many answers as I can. Stay tuned for further information.”
Superior Court Judge Farrington issued her decision in the first phase of our affordable housing trial on January 17, 2020. She stated, “in essence, the Governing Body wants this Court to believe it negotiated in good faith for months but the time, money and efforts by the parties…were all for naught in the face of public opposition. The Court finds this to be an abuse of the process.”
She ordered that the Borough create 174 affordable housing units and rezone numerous commercial properties for hundreds of more units including 800 Sylvan. Most troubling is her finding that 111 Sylvan Avenue (New LG property) was a “squandered opportunity” since the former Parisi Administration failed to follow COAH protocol for the property in 1997. Accordingly, her ruling includes 136 affordable housing units because of this failure.
The second phase of the trial has commenced and it includes the “builder’s remedy” action. It is only permitted to proceed because the Borough lost its immunity from builder’s remedy lawsuits in August of last year. Unfortunately for the Borough, Judge Farrington did not appreciate the flip-flop strategy made by the Borough’s Mount Laurel Subcommittee members, Ed Aversa, Deborah Tsabari and Ellen Park. As a result of their actions, Judge Farrington stripped the Borough of its immunity against “builder’s remedy” lawsuits stating, “The Borough of Englewood Cliffs has acted in bad faith.”
Without the consent of the Mayor & Council, Ed Aversa, Deborah Tsabari and Ellen Park authorized attorney Al Wunsch to sign an unauthorized and secret Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). Only after the public outcry on July 10, 2019 and filing of recall petitions against Ed Aversa and Gloria Oh did they reverse course and disingenuously state they will join Mayor Kranjac and Councilman Woo in fighting 800 Sylvan.
DISASTROUS IMPACT CAUSED BY
ED AVERSA, DEBORAH TSABARI AND ELLEN PARK’S SECRET MOU
The terms of the MOU that Ed Aversa, Deborah Tsabari and Ellen Park negotiated included rezoning multiple large commercial corporate properties along our valuable Trillion Dollar Mile, as well as acres of vacant property that belong to the new LG Headquarters site. They designated these commercial properties as overlay zones to permit high-density residential housing.
This was done in addition to giving the green light for 800 Sylvan to build their residential development. Ed Aversa, Debora Tsabari and Ellen Park’s plan would create a domino effect of corporate properties turning into high-density residential developments along Sylvan Avenue had their MOU become the settlement agreement. This would have a disastrous impact on our residential property values.
Democratic Council Majority’s Secret MOU Affordable Housing Plan
RDP & Overlay Zones
WHY DID ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS LOSE ITS “BUILDER’S REMEDY” IMMUNITY?
Documented mistakes and unilateral, secret actions of Democratic Councilpersons Gloria Oh, Ed Aversa, Deborah Tsabari, Jimmy Song and Ellen Park since January of 2019
(Source: Court documents filed on eCourts)
• January 24, 2019 – The Borough Council voted in an UNANIMOUS decision to pass a resolution approving the Republican housing plan to build 100% affordable housing on Hudson Terrace. Oh, Aversa, Tsabari, Song and Ellen Park abandoned this plan within days.
• January 29, 2019 (five days later) – Aversa, Tsabari and E. Park (Mount Laurel Subcommittee members) along with their attorney Albert Wunsch, held a secret settlement negotiations meeting with Normandy Real Estate Partners agreeing to allow 800 Sylvan to build high-density residential housing on their commercial property.
• April 23, 2019 – A secret non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was finalized between the Mount Laurel Subcommittee, 800 Sylvan and Fair Share Housing Center and was signed by Albert Wunsch.
• June 12, 2019 – Mayor and Council meeting: A resident informed the Governing Body that she uncovered a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) filed by Normandy on eCourts. Aversa and his team denied the existence of the MOU and ultimately got caught when their “backroom settlement deal” with Normandy became public.
• July 10, 2019 – Public Town Meeting: Aversa, Tsabari and E. Park’s secret MOU plan was presented by the Professionals. They adamantly pushed settling and allowing Normandy to build 400 residential units at 800 Sylvan. The Democratic Council majority felt the wrath of over 300 residents, and only then reluctantly agreed to fight and not settle with Normandy.
• August 27, 2019 – Judge Farrington’s Order: Flip-flopping after seven months of secretly representing to the Court, 800 Sylvan and Fair Share Housing that they would allow high-density residential housing on 800 Sylvan, Judge Farrington stripped the Borough’s immunity from “builder’s remedy” lawsuits. This key ruling means the town can no longer prevent developers from building high-density housing in Englewood Cliffs.
2018 APPROVED AFFORDABLE HOUSING PLAN
In 2019, the Republican’s 100% affordable housing plan was abandoned by the Democratic Council majority (Oh, Aversa, E. Park, Tsabari and Song) within days of the Democrats taking back control. That plan provided for a 77 unit 100% affordable housing project on Hudson Terrace. As required by the Court, the plan also indicated three (3) areas in town where we would create overlay zones to provide for future affordable housing obligations to satisfy our unmet need.
These locations were supported by the Court-appointed Special Master, and were located along Hudson Terrace, East Palisade Avenue and adjacent to Fort Lee in the B-3 zone. The Republican administration led by Mayor Kranjac felt it was important to designate these unmet need sites in locations most beneficial to the residents. This plan would preserve the “Trillion Dollar Mile”.
Republican’s 2018 Affordable Housing Plan
RDP & Overlay Zones
WHY? DEMOCRAT COUNCIL MAJORITY CONTINUES TO
PLAY POLITICS WITH OUR TAX PAYING RESIDENTS
Unfortunately for the residents, Democrat Councilpersons Aversa, Oh, Tsabari and Song continue playing politics. They are still using attorney Al Wunsch, their hand picked attorney with no affordable housing experience, to obstruct Mayor Kranjac’s access to all relevant affordable housing and 800 Sylvan litigation documents. This obstruction of justice continues even after the Council majority voted to immediately fire Wunsch at the January 15, 2020 meeting and after two majority votes taken by the Council compelling document production. WHY would they deny the Mayor and Councilpersons Woo and Ferro access to all those documents, especially after the Democrat Council majority approved payments of over $2.5 million of your tax dollars to these attorneys and professionals?
After the monumental mistakes made since taking control of the Council in January of 2019, Councilpersons Aversa and Tsabari decided to “jump ship” and abandon their Mount Laurel Subcommittee and the residents, just two days before the Court’s decision was due. They appointed Mayor Kranjac and Councilpersons Woo and Ferro as their replacements in the desperate attempt to distance themselves from the affordable housing mess they created. Mayor Kranjac has insisted that the Council as a whole must make all decisions in the future.
At the special meeting held on Tuesday, January 21, 2020, Aversa, Oh, Tsabari and Song blocked Mayor Kranjac’s request to include the Planning Board Chairman and the Borough’s former Affordable Housing Liaison from assisting the Borough’s professionals in fighting the 800 Sylvan ruling. Furthermore, all 4 Democrat Councilpersons left the meeting prior to its conclusion, leaving behind the Borough’s professionals.
Putting Englewood Cliffs First’s newsletter is paid for by the Englewood Cliffs Republican Organization. The Certificate of Incorporation for EC for Responsible Government, which publishes Eye on the Cliffs, clearly states that it is registered and run by Democratic political activists yet EC for Responsible Government claims to be a non-partisan organization. This misrepresentation by EC for Responsible Government is one of the primary reasons we are publishing Putting Englewood Cliffs First’s newsletter.
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