NUTLEY, NJ - Two Ordinance changes to the Rent Leveling Board were discussed with the Board of Commissioners at the recent public meeting on Tuesday evening May 2. The board also heard from citizens who voiced their opinions on parking, the Davis bike shop building, and school gymnasiums.. 

Rent Leveling Board and Chairman James Kuchta and Board Attorney Joseph Hannon presented changes to rent increases in accordance to capital improvements, hardships and reporting requirements. Present were Mayor and Public Works Commissioner Joseph P. Scarpelli and Commissioners Alphonse Petracco, Mauro G. Tucci and via phone Revenue and Finance Commissioner Thomas J. Evans. Public Affairs Commissioner Steven Rogers was given an excused absence.

Kutcha explained the first ordinance would be to reinstate capital improvement, increase provisions which was inadvertently deleted when the hardship proposal was changed in the code. The second would be conform process on the hardship variance. “Landlord would apply to the rent leveling board and pay the application fee, explain what the capital improvements and how they are filed with the IRS,” he said. 

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“It would not be included in base rent for annual increases for heat etc. up to 5 percent increase allowed,” said Kutcha.

Tucci asked for a clarification under the provision increase. “Rents can be increased to 10 percent or rents at the discretion of the board. It looks like it could go over 10 percent,” said Tucci. Kutcha explained the max of 15 percent is with annual the increasing. “Ten percent for capital improvement and then normal increase [of 5 percent],” he said

Tucci also questioned if there is an appeal process. Mayor Scarpelli asked for these clarifications to be added and then to be presented again with the changes.

The commissioners broke into an executive session for about an hour and half to discuss litigation.

Budget clarification

Petracco clarified the municipal budget in regards to the Public Safety Department. “Public safety is the biggest expense on the municipal side of the budget. We plan for the worst every year; you can’t predict how many storms we will get or how much crime. This year we gave $700,000 back to the budget,” he said.

He also noted that giving the police a 3 percent increase gives back longevity. “The numbers are big in public safety; it’s close to $300,000. I always go to [Commissioner Evans] every single budget cycle and make sure we are in line. I work very diligently in the public safety department to control cost but I would never jeopardize public safety to cut cost,” added Petracco.

Ordinances

Ordinance Number 3358 to amend changing the municipal court fee from $50 to up to $200 for representation of a public defender; was approved however the court may waive this fee in whole or in part if the Court determines in its discretion that the application fee represents an unreasonable burden on the person seeking representation.

Resolutions

The board approved four resolutions requested by the Mayor on behalf of Commissioner Rogers, in his absence. May was established as National Bike Month by the League of American Bicyclists. The township of Nutley recognizes bicyclists and approved the resolution that May 15 through 19 is Bike to Work Week and Friday May, 19 is Bike to Work Day.  The township also approved May 14 through 20 as Food Allergy Aware Week. Also the Month of May is Mental Health Awareness month and National Stroke Awareness month.

Commissioner Mauro Tucci’s request for May 6 to be recognized as Arbor Day was approved by the board. Also a contract for a tractor/loader/backhoe was awarded to Wilfred McDonald Inc., of Pine Brook for the amount of $46,552.

Evans three resolutions to refund escrow balances to 488-494 Prospect St., 116 Walnut St. and 160 Walnut St. in the amounts of $1,500; $2,230 and $4,250 respectively, were approved. Also a refund for overpayment of tax charges was approved in the amount of $8,808.62 for various blocks and lots as well as $459.77 to 474 Harford Drive for overpayment of water charges.

Scarpelli’s request to award Newark Asphalt Corp. to purchase asphalt material in the amount not to exceed $50,000 was also granted.

Public Comment

Bill Klecak commented on the ordnance Parking and Time Limited on the two hour parking on Highfield Lane as well as Conduit Place. “I have been living there for 21 years and I feel like I live in the middle of a park and ride. People catch the bus into the city down below east of White Terrace. People are parking in front of my house all day. With the ordinance 520 feet they are just going to move from down the street to the middle of the street,” he said.

“I had an ordinance for decals for parking in the area. It’s so complex that the commissioners asked me to table it for tonight. It seems for every good solution we do there is a con to it,” said Petracco.

Petracco is going to look into adding Conduit Place. The ordinance was moved by the board.

Neil Henning questioned the Davis property. “The Davis Property received three pages of fire code violations they had to be abated by Aug. 25, 2014. Did Davis abate those violations? If not abated the fines could be up to $5000 a day. Did the fire department fine the owner,” he asked.

Joan Rubino raised questions on why property values are going up due to the schools and why trailers are not the answer for additional classrooms. “Trailers are very nice and they are like regular classrooms,” she said. “What good is it if your property value goes up but you can’t sell your house because your taxes are so high?” she asked.

She also questioned the potential improvements to the schools gyms. “The gyms aren’t educationally sound? What is wrong with our gyms, 100 year olds with hoops and what not?” she asked. She asked why the BOE and BOC are not working together. The mayor clarified that they been working together on this situation.

Maria Bozza also addressed the board on the potential school improvements. “If you are trying to chase old time people out of Nutley you are doing a good job. Why is it we need new schools in this town, they have been perfectly fine for many years? What are you going to do in five years when we don’t need the schools anymore and people aren’t having children anymore? These trailers you can get rid of but you can’t get rid of the school buildings. Us tax payers don’t have a say in what you do you just do it,” she said.

The mayor suggested she bring her issue to the BOE.

Also during the meeting Nutley High School senior Michael DeHaas, junior Phil Amiths and head coach Judy McIntyre of the crew team received a proclamation from the Board of Commissioners. See related story Hometown heroes recognized by Nutley commissioners 

The next Board of Commissioners meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 16.

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