NEWARK, NJ - The City Council is scheduled to meet Thursday to consider a packed agenda that includes decisions on whether to ban plastic bags in Newark, administer federal housing grants and issuing a tax abatement extension to the developer of the FBI building.
So far, the future is uncertain for an ordinance that aims to ban the use of plastic bags in the city, following the lead of several other municipalities around the state. The bill has been deferred five times as council members have struggled to determine the impact the bill might have, particularly on Newark’s downtown business district.
Some council members have said a plastic bag ban in Newark would be ineffective if surrounding cities and towns don’t enforce such a law. Others believe the city bill should be scrapped and instead wait for the state legislature to make banning plastic bags a law for all of New Jersey.
The council will also consider administering more than $16 million in federal grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that would fund four existing housing programs through August 2020.
The funds include more than $7 million for a Community Development Block Grant and $5.8 million for the Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS program.
Another $2.4 million would fund the HOME Investments Partnerships program, which provides affordable housing to low-income residents and more than $600,000 would go toward an Emergency Solutions Grant, which provides assistance to the homeless.
Also on the agenda is the first public hearing of an ordinance that would grant the developer of Newark’s FBI headquarters a five-year tax abatement extension. The developer, identified in the bill as Claremont Newark Urban Renewal LLC, had initially asked for a 15-year tax abatement extension for an improvement project at the site. Mayor Ras Baraka is recommending only five years, according to the bill, but does not give a reason why.
The City Council will meet in council chambers on Thursday at 12:30 p.m.