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Harrison Mayor & Council Meeting: Key Decisions Tues. Dec 5, 2023

Dec 05, 2023
Harrison NJ Street with Apartment Buildings

The Town of Harrison's Mayor and Council are scheduled to convene on Tuesday, December 5, 2023, at 6:15 p.m. in a meeting that promises to be significant for the future of the town. Key issues on the agenda include changes to the RCA Redevelopment Zone plan and various legal contracts involving attorney Gregory Castano Jr.

The meeting, set to take place in the Caucus Room on the 3rd floor, will begin with routine formalities, including the Pledge of Allegiance and roll call, followed by the approval of minutes from previous meetings held on November 14 and 28, 2023. The minutes of the prior meeting however are not included with the Agenda on the Town of Harrison Website. A request for the meeting minutes has been made.

RCA Redevelopment Plan Changes

One of the focal points of the meeting is Ordinance No. 1498, which proposes amendments to the redevelopment plan for the RCA Vo-Toys Redevelopment Area. This ordinance could mark a pivotal change in the town's landscape and strategic development. The details of the proposed amendments have garnered attention, as they could significantly impact the neighborhood surrounding the proposed building with yet more reduced parking and changes. It is not clear what changes have been requested but previously at the Harrison Planning Board requests were made to eliminate parking and recreational space within the building.

Appointments and Legal Contracts

The agenda also highlights the appointment of a Municipal Prosecutor, a key role in the town's legal framework. Additionally, the council will discuss a series of resolutions involving Gregory Castano Jr., Esq., and Castano Quigley Cherami LLC. These include amending existing contracts, awarding a professional services contract for a tax appeal attorney, and a separate professional services contract to Gregory Castano Jr., himself. These resolutions indicate a continued and expanding relationship between the town and the Castano Quigley Cherami LLC law firm.

Other Agenda Items

Other items on the agenda include various contracts and resolutions covering financial services, grants consulting, third-party elevator subcode services, and cleaning services. The council will also address taxi cab owner's license approvals and public comments.

The meeting is not just about legal and developmental matters; financial resolutions, such as budget amendments and refunds, are also slated on the Agenda.

Public Engagement Encouraged

Residents of Harrison are encouraged to attend this meeting, as the decisions made could have lasting effects on the community. Public comment is an essential part of the process, and community involvement in the Mayor & Council decision-making is important.

The meeting is expected to draw significant interest from the community, stakeholders in the redevelopment zone, and parties involved in the various contracts and legal matters.

The amendment to Ordinance No. 1498, concerning the RCA Vo-Toys Redevelopment Area One aspect continues diminishing once again of on-site parking among other changes. Hopefully, the Mayor & Council explain what the changes are to the plan and why they are seen to be necessary.

Public Session / EPA Sludge Dumping Plan

The Public Session is also an opportunity to ask any question or make a comment on any other topic or concern that a resident or stakeholder has concerning the Town of Harrison.  One of the topics the Mayor & Council have not discussed publicly is the plan by the EPA to place a toxic sludge dewatering plant in the Town of Harrison on the former PSE&G Gas Works property located between the Path Station and the Jackson Street bridge along South Frank E. Rodgers Blvd.  In August of 2022, Mayor James Fife stated that the EPA was planning to use the site for toxic sludge dewatering but has not opposed the plan and/or made any other statements related to the EPA plan since.  Mayor Fife tried to deny his statement in August 2022 but the statement was caught on the Zoom video of the meeting for posterity.  He also stated during the November 2022 Mayoral election that his then-mayoral opponent and former Councilman Anselmo Millan and his friend local attorney John M. Pinho were lying about EPA’s plan.  They were not lying but raising public awareness of an issue and project that Mayor Fife should be opposing but is NOT. Read more on the Toxic Sludge Dumping Plan by clicking here.

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