NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – The Zoning Board meeting scheduled for Monday night at City Hall has been canceled in reaction to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.
The move to call off the meeting was made Friday, said John Cox, Chairman of the Zoning Board.
“I definitely think it was the prudent thing to do,” Cox told TAPinto New Brunswick. “Was I happy to see the meeting canceled? No, I never like seeing meetings canceled. But it was definitely erring on the side of caution.”
The agenda posted on the city’s website showed that it was shaping up to be a busy meeting for the 10-member Zoning Board.
There was a memorization for a Goliath Holdings LLC project at 94 Senior St.
There were also three public hearings scheduled.
New Century Development was making a variance application to demolish a one-family home at 155 Howard St. to construct a new two-story, two-family home to contain two three-bedroom units
Also, New Century was making a variance application to construct a new two-story, two family home on a vacant lot at 18 Class Place.
Urban Renewal LLC was making a variance application for two signs at the site of a nine-story, mixed-use building being constructed at 88 Easton Ave.
A developer seeking to convert a gas station and auto repair center on Easton Avenue into a gas station/convenience store had earlier canceled his appearance at the meeting.
Universal Property Services’ site plan and variance application process date to the summer.
The developer also canceled ahead of its scheduled appearance before the Zoning Board in February.
In the name of social distancing as a way to slow the spread of COVID-19, Gov. Phil Murphy has ordered the cancelation of all gatherings of 50 or more people. State Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli has also warned the virus could be spread in smaller gatherings, too.
Murphy has taken steps to guide municipalities when it comes to public meetings. On Friday, he signed a bill that allows public agencies more time to respond to requests for government records during periods of emergency. He also signed one that allows public bodies to conduct meetings and provide notice by electron means during periods of emergency.
This was not the first public meeting in the city to be affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The City Council went to the unprecedented step of having public comment sessions via teleconference technology.
Four of the five members of the Council, along with some other key city personnel, were in the Council Chambers as usual. They all sat at least six feet apart.
Zoning Boards, such as the one in New Brunswick, hear and decide on requests for interpretations on municipal zoning and land development ordinances. Applicants often have witnesses, such as planners and traffic experts. Applications are often accompanied by various renderings, maps and other visual materials.
“It would be very difficult (to have a Zoning Board meeting) because of the witnesses,” Cox said. “Once you get the witnesses in the room, they you have more than 10 people.”
With Monday's meeting canceled, no makeup date has been scheduled.