NUTLEY, NJ - The status of Nutley’s pending transitional state aid was requested during the public comment of the Tuesday, Sept. 3, Board of Commissioners meeting. Public Safety Commissioner Alphonse Petracco was absent excused.
Christopher Cullari of Nutley asked for an update of the transitional state aid and what the impact to the taxpayer would be if Nutley does not receive all or any of the anticipated $3.5 million.
Nutley received $4.1 million in transitional state aid last year. By law, the township can only anticipate 85 percent of the previous year’s state transitional aid, roughly $3.5 million.
According to Revenue and Finance Commissioner Thomas J. Evans, the township should get a response from the state within the next two weeks. “The root issues that the state is trying to address regarding the budget they remain as of yet, unresolved. […] they are looking at are areas [where] they can free up money and provide that to the calendar year towns that have applied for transitional aid, which includes Nutley,” he said.
Evans said the state is well aware Nutley is operating under a temporary budget authorization and needs to know where the revenue position is going to be set in order to finalize the budget before residents will get a final tax bill for the year.
“If we were to not receive any of the $4.1 million worth of [transitional] aid that we asked for, we have two choices. We have to find a way to cut our budget or it would result in an adjustment to the November tax bill,” Evans said.
He added, the county, school board and commissioners have been discussing the issue over the last few weeks and are preparing in case the transitional aid does not come through or [how to] deal with a temporary deferral of that so that 100 percent of the loss would not be passed on to the taxpayers.
Maria Bozza of Nutley said she owns a three family house in Nutley and has been in her family since 1939. She said she has three rooms in the attic that she is not allowed to rent out anymore which has been rented out since 1939 until 10 years ago. Bozza said she understands Nutley’s code enforcement however there is a home at 272 Nutley Ave. that she believes is against township code. According to Bozza, the homeowner has a deck that goes all the way to the end of the property and to both sides of the property, between two houses and the rear of the home. She said the concrete deck is on all three property lines and has been there since the home has been built about 10 years ago. She asked why she has to follow rules when she believes others do not.
Evans said the property was granted variances by the Board of Adjustment for the uses of the property. “Many times when you see something that is beyond what you would see as the standard code, first question goes to whether any variances were granted by the board of adjustment of the township.”
Evans said if someone is found in violation with township code they will receive a violation notice. If it goes beyond the code they are able to go before the Board of Adjustment and can be granted relieve to leave it as built.
Bozza asked if she can approach the Board of Adjustment to try and rent her third floor apartment. Evans said she can speak to them but that construction codes and safety codes have to be met and she should have an attorney present. A record that the third floor apartment was rented in the past would also be needed. He said if it was not continuously used for the purpose it would not be considered a nonconforming use under the code. He said the fact that it is not in use now, Bozza would need to apply for a variance.
Joan Rubino of Nutley again discussed the banning of single-use plastic bags and her thoughts on reusable bags. She said while checking out at ShopRite, the cashier told her that one person’s reusable bag was filled with ants.
Rubino also asked the status of the updated township employee handbooks. Township attorney Alan Genitempo said they are almost ready, however there were recent changes in the law that had to be addressed, such as new sick leave and the Medical Leave Act in New Jersey.
According to Genitempo, it is up to the commissioners whether to share the employee handbook with residents. “These are for internal employees, they are not for the public, it’s not a public document,” he said.
Nella Cicchino owner of Mamma Vittoria Catering in Nutley said closing Franklin Avenue for township events hurts her business. According to Cicchino, 85 percent of her business is Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Cicchino said she is aware the street has to be closed off for parades and other events. She usually receives notification well in advance and makes sure events are not booked on those days. Some of her events are booked a year in advance. Cicchino said when the street was closed on Labor Day for the street fair, there was a wedding booked for that day. She claims she only received the notice a week and half prior to the street closure. Due to the closure, the couple had to cancel the wedding. Cicchino said she isn’t against these events and said they are a “wonderful community thing,” but would like some consideration given to herself and other Franklin Avenue business owners that are open on the weekend.
Cicchino suggested maybe moving the events, not the parades, to the other end of Franklin Avenue, if those businesses don’t mind. “For me south of Centre [Street] is really a hardship. And again when the bulk of your business is on the weekend, if I have to close my business on a Sunday because of a street fair [then] I can’t pay the rent,” she said.
Cicchino also said there is a parking problem south of Centre Street. There are no municipal parking lots at that end of town, other than Lot Number 5 which 85 percent of the spots are permit parking. She said even during the week she cannot book a second event on the same day because there is no parking and she does have enough parking spots in her lot to accommodate enough vehicles.
Parks and Recreation Commissioner Mauro G. Tucci said they will look into creating a notification service for the businesses. He is also considering to do a survey of parking on Franklin Avenue, similar to the White Paper study of multi-family housing he did earlier in the year.
The next Board of Commissioners meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 17.
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