Just seven months ago, developer Cecil Sanders (one of three PMUA commissioners--the others were Malcolm Dunn and Alex Toliver--who voted to give $1.2 million of taxpayer money to executives who resigned, causing furloughs and layoffs) brought his lawyer to the council meeting in a discussion of the ordinance then--Bernice wrote up the exchange on her PlainTalker II blog. Our Corporation Counsel, David Minchello, said the ordinance was not legal:
The final item on the special meeting agenda was conveyance of city-owned land to the Housing Authority, but Corporation Counsel David Minchello deemed the ordinance "not legal" and in need of further review. He said city redevelopment counsel Robert Renaud concurred.
First, he said, the ordinance read "like an attempt to enter into a redevelopment agreement," but it referred to an area not designated for redevelopment. Secondly, terms, such as a price for the turnover, were lacking.
Wendy Monahan, an attorney for developer Cecil Sanders, said the property was being conveyed to the Housing Authority.
"In my legal opinion, there is nothing illegal about this ordinance," she said.
But the council sided with Minchello and voted to table the ordinance.
What has changed? This time, Director Wood decided not to even bother to show the administration the proposed ordinance, or to discuss it with them. Click here for the rest of the post.
Back then (the final months of 2013), the group consisted of Matrix Real Estate Group, the Plainfield Housing Authority and the Plainfield Community Development Corporation). Here's another passage from one of Bernice's posts on the scheme from October:
"Presenting themselves as West Second Street Association LLC with the tentative name "Cove Apartments," the team said the $23.6 million project will be financed by a combination of low-income housing credits, NJ HOME, NJHMFA and other sources. Once completed, the mortgage will be $6.5 million, Martin said. He predicted the project would have "tremendous economic impact" on the downtown area."
Click here for the rest of that post.
When I asked Mr. Wood how many commercial projects HAP had done, he admitted that they had never done such a project, but that his "developer" (whomever that is) was a good one. There are other parcels of land that could be used for residential development--why do Mr. Wood and his cohorts want this parcel? Why not develop residential housing in residential areas? Who else has a hand in this? That is the question. Let me be clear before my words are deliberately mischaracterized by the obstructionists: I believe that these specific parcels of land should be used for COMMERCIAL development--we must bring commercial development to our city to ease the burden on our residents, to create real, sustainable jobs (as opposed to limited short-term construction-type jobs) for our workforce. We need business development in this city--our business district does not need additional residential housing when there are plenty of other parcels for it.
The disrespect shown to the administration by not first sitting with the mayor and/or the economic development director to discuss it is only outweighed by Director Wood bringing the "ordinance" before the council for swift placement on the agenda. Why wouldn't he have called the mayor or the economic development director to discuss this? What was the rush? His rudeness and defensiveness toward Councilman Storch (some viewed both men as rude) for even raising the question about this unusual behavior clearly illustrated the "putting the cart before the horse" aspect of these machinations. Mr. Wood said he didn't want to put the "horse before the cart" (his malapropism of the old saying), and yet he did just that by not talking to the administration first.
Corporation Counsel HAD NOT EVEN SEEN the "ordinance"--that is unconscionable. I don't buy this "I couldn't schedule a meeting" crap. In the 21st century, we have email and TELEPHONES (which were invented in the 19th century). Why would a "discussion" item automatically morph into an ordinance--which he miraculously produced? I will be looking very closely at the ethics of all the parties involved.
Click on the link for the Code of Ethics: http://www.lpcnj.org/OGTF/LGEL.pdf
Code of ethics for local government officers or employees under jurisdiction of local finance board