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Zoning Board Preparing to Sue City Over Nonpayment of Professional Fees

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PATERSON, NJ – Paterson’s Zoning Board of Adjustment is preparing to sue the city because the municipal government has not paid the agency’s professionals for at least several months.

But city officials say they are not to blame. The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) has refused to sign off on the payments for the zoning board’s attorney, planner and secretary for work they perform at the agency’s bimonthly meetings.

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“It’s outside our control at this point in time,’’ said Mayor Jeffrey Jones.

The zoning board on November 8 adopted a resolution to hire attorney Carmine Campanile at a rate of $200 per hour “to commence litigation against the City of Paterson to compel the payment of staff and professional fees.”

“If that’s what they feel they have to do, I can’t stop them,’’ said Jones.

It’s not clear how much money is at stake. Zoning board officials could not be reached for comment on the situation. City officials said it amounted to a few thousand dollars.

This is the second time this year that the city government and Board of Adjustment have been at odds over fees. For a while, the city had been withholding the $75 per meeting payments that board members receive. That situation was resolved after the city changed the way those payments were made, form stipend checks to regular pay with taxes being taken out, officials said.

But DCA spokeswoman Lisa Ryan said the state was still reviewing Paterson waiver request for the fees for the zoning board professionals. Paterson Business Administrator Charles Thomas said the state was particularly focused on the process that the zoning board used for picking its professionals. Ryan confirmed that the DCA was concerned about the apparent lack of a request for professional proposals for the jobs.

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