NUTLEY, NJ - Commissioners reflected on the life of former mayor Peter C. Scarpelli; Revenue and Finance Commissioner Thomas J. Evans announces that a settlement was reached on the two-bedroom apartment litigation during the Tuesday, Feb. 5 Board of Commissioners public meeting. Public Affairs Commissioner Steven L. Rogers was absent excused.

Former Mayor

Mayor and Public Works Commissioner Joseph P. Scarpelli thanked the commissioners and their departments for their efforts and support over the last few weeks for the loss of his father and former mayor Peter C. Scarpelli, who died at the age of 81 on Jan. 27.  He also thanked everyone who sent a card or came to the services. “The outpouring of love and support was overwhelming and provided much comfort during this trying time,” he said.

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Scarpelli spoke briefly about his father. “My dad dedicated a lifetime to public service, either volunteering in the community or sitting in this seat for four years or sitting in that empty seat over there [Commissioner Rogers’s seat] for 20 plus years. He taught our family love and discipline, kindness and strength, charity and hard work,” he said.

Evans also commented on the former mayor.  “He had a wonderful sense of human, but he was always patient and caring about the town, and that is passed on from generation to generation,” he said.

Parks and Recreation Commissioner Mauro G. Tucci said Pete Scarpelli kept everybody in the loop when he was mayor. According to Tucci he was an outstanding mayor and activities such as Swing Night and Family Day were his ideas. “Pete was a little extra special to me, because when I came on this board in 2000 Peter Scarpelli was our mayor.  …He was always reaching out. He loved this town and went above and beyond. And in the course in all that, which we still do today, we had a lot of fun with Pete. …He had that unique quality to pick out those little things and bring them to everyone’s attention,” he said.

Public Safety Commissioner Alphonse Petracco said Pete Scarpelli went into his deli every single day and they shared a lot of laughs. “[…] Pete was there for the people,” he said.

He continued, “…the character he left behind was that he wasn’t afraid to stand out in the crowd and make a tough decision.” He added that he always remembered one thing the former mayor said when Petracco was attending the BOC meetings, considering running for commissioner, “I can’t vote for something that the people already voted on and the people have spoken and I have to cast my vote no, agreeing with the people of the town.”

A moment of silence was held.

Announcements

Evans announced that a settlement with developer Kenneth Mecca had been reached. Mecca will pay the township $1 million; $100,000 of that covers any cost the township has incurred including the best practices review. Evans said $200,000 of the fine relates to the two-bedroom apartments and the $700,000 is in regards to the density issue that exists with the apartments on East Centre Street. The money will be received in installments within the next four years; 300,000 this year, $250,000 the next two years, and $200,000 in the final year.

Evans said it was clear that on the township’s side there were some mistakes that were made and some actions that the builder took some actions he shouldn’t have. He was notified of all violations and that the township was taking steps to remedy them. All apartments with extra bedrooms have to eliminate the second bedroom by or before the current lease term of the tenant. The owner will need to relocate the tenants at his own expense. He will not get a CO (Certificate of Occupancy) for those apartments until that happens. The owner has superintendent apartments and annually the owner has to verify that they are occupied by a superintendent.

According to Evans there were quite a few legal risks the township faced that had to be evaluated. Back in May the township had a change in leadership in the Code Enforcement Department. An outside consultant is performing best practices reviews of procedures so that some of things don’t happen again.

The township is planning out what to do with the money. Evans said recently the township was ordered by the Essex County Board of Taxation to reevaluate the township in 2020, which hasn’t been done since 2005. Last time it cost the taxpayers over approximately $950,000 to hire an outside appraisal company to look at every single property in town. The monies collected will be set aside to offset that cost.

Township Attorney Alan Genitempo said there are also requirements Mecca has to meet with the purchase of Springer Lane and parking requirements.

Genitempo added that the settlement agreement will be made public but through an OPRA (Open Public Records Act) request. He believes the settlement is reasonable and appropriate and if they had not settled it would cost the taxpayers substantial legal fees and could go on for years. He said the settlement is a product of a long and hard negotiation.

The next Board of Commissioners meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19.

 

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