NUTLEY, NJ - Residents raise questions on Ciccolini property, bees, and park improvements during the public comment portion of the Nutley Board of Commissioners first Zoom virtual public meeting on Tuesday, May 5. All five commissioners were present from separate locations. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the public meetings for the remainder of the 2020 year have been moved online thru Zoom until further notice. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the remainder of the 2020-year public meetings have been moved online to Zoom until further notice.

Rory Moore of Nutley questioned Amazon.com purchases on the bill list. He requested the bill list show itemized sales for Amazon.com. Mayor and Public Works Commissioner Joseph P. Scarpelli said that purchases at other stores on the list don’t specify what was purchased.

Moore asked Parks and Recreation Commissioner Mauro G. Tucci if the township was seeking bonds for one of the Nutley parks. Tucci said nothing than the capital improvement program which was submitted and part of the municipal budget. There are improvements on Margaret Avenue, DeMuro Park’s track and field which is shared with the Nutley Board of Education and the high school.

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Moore also questioned the status of the Franklin Avenue Ciccolini property the township purchased. Township attorney Alan Genitempo said the township is waiting for the final report from the engineering company that was hired to do a study on the building and the surrounding property.

Ed Degeorgis of Nutley asked if there are any vacant properties in the township, particularly on the On3 site to manufacture PPE products. Scarpelli said Nutley does not have a lot of vacant land and does not control the property on the On3 site, which is owned by Prism Capital Investments.

Alex Rubens of Nutley said the planters on the corner of Franklin Avenue and Centre Street was inundated with bees. Tucci said those were honey bees and the township hired a beekeeper to take care of it.

David DelPolito asked about the $1 million fine charged to Kenneth Mecca. A decision was made to use the funds towards the township’s revaluation fees during the Feb. 5, 2019 BOC meeting. See Nutley Commissioner Evans Announces a Settlement was Reached with Developer. Ordinance No. 3419 was approved during the May 21, 2019 BOC meeting — “Monies from the Kenneth Mecca settlement will be used to offset the cost of the township’s revaluation.” See Roadwork Approved for Nutley Streets at Nutley Board of Commissioners Meeting.

Revenue and Finance Commissioner Thomas J. Evans said the funds are set aside in a trust for when the township has its revaluation, which was originally scheduled for this year. Due to COVID-19, the revaluation was postponed until 2022.

DelPolito also asked if Mecca would not be allowed to build in the township anymore due to the fine. Scarpelli said the township does not have the ability to prevent someone from building in the town.

DelPolito suggested the overcrowding in the schools, especially Washington School is from the newer apartment buildings.

Evans disagreed that those new units did not cause the overcrowding at Washington School. “Overcrowding in our schools is not about apartments it’s about the fact that we are in the 21st century and we are using infrastructure that was built in early to mid-20th century for a different purpose. In the 20th century when it was built we did not have all of the special needs requirements that require small classroom size, where we only have large classrooms. We only had half day kindergarten, today we have full day kindergarten. We also have advancements in curricular structure that requires more contact time for teachers which is necessitating smaller classroom size,” he said.

Evans also thoroughly explained the issues of overcrowding at the Jan. 2, 2018 BOC meeting – see Nutley Commissioner Tom Evans addresses rumors, causes, and laws about school overcrowding.

Tammy Rossi of Nutley asked in regards to the Ciccolini property what surrounding properties were surveyed by the township. Scarpelli said the properties on Franklin Avenue from High Street to Vreeland Avenue to see if any of those properties qualify for an area for redevelopment.

Rossi also asked if there will be township employee salary increases. Evans said the raises are figured into the budget and other than public safety they are nominal. Rossi questioned how that is possible with no tax increase. “When we do the budget every year we have to look at not just what we need to spend in that one year, we look at it over what are the potential future risks that can impact us and how do we prepare for that,” said Evans.

Evans explained that On3 withdrew the tax appeals brought on initially by Hoffman-La Roche which enabled the township to release that reserve to bring that revenue in at a time that the township needed it to zero out the increase. 

Rossi also questioned the school budget increase. Evans explained the municipal government legally has no control over the school district’s budget.

Larry Quirk of Nutley thanked the commissioners for putting up appreciation signs around the township for the first responders, essential workers and the hospitals.

Quirk said there are violations for some municipal election signs. Municipal Attorney Alan Genitempo said he and the Code Enforcement Department spoke to the campaigns and got the signs back to compliance. Quirk said there are still some large campaign signs that are against the regulations.

The next Board of Commissioners meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 19 via Zoom. To gain access to the meeting go to zoom.us/j/98805921694. Password: 876956. For those without computer access or mobile device you may dial into the meeting at:  (number based on your current location) US: +1 929 205 6099; +1 312 626 6799; +1 301 715 8592; +1 346 248 7799; +1 669 900 6833; or +1 253 215 8782. Meeting ID: 988 0592 1694.

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