The re-introduced zoning ordinance would create an R1-A zoning district to protect one and two-family homes on several blocks in the western side of the city that are located on larger-than-average lots. The rationale behind creating the zone is to protect these homes, many of which have historic architecture, from being torn down and replaced with smaller new houses.
West Side Councilwoman Mary Spinello requested the ordinance be pulled from the previous council meeting on Dec. 13. She re-introduced it after homeowners who were initially against the new zoning changed their minds.
Also, the City Council decided against introducing two of the five ordinances allotting funds from the city's Affordable Housing Trust Fund. The monies were to go to two local development entities constructing houses and rental apartments for low- and middle-income residents.
But questions from council members at Monday's council caucus regarding a lack of information on the projects put a stop to the ordinances.Getting in the zone
The R1-A zone, as currently introduced, would protect homes located mostly in a three-block area from Harrison Avenue to Gifford Avenue as well as scattered homes on certain other blocks in the vicinity of Lincoln Park. The homes are located on lots that are larger than the standard 25 by 100 feet.
Charlene Burke, who owns an old home on a large lot on Duncan Avenue that is not in the zone, spoke to the council during the public speaking session about the importance of the zoning.
"Developments are now into the meat of Jersey City, and they are looking at every single property that can be subdivided and built to a maximum amount of building in order to make a good dollar," said Burke. "They don't care about the architecture."
Keith Pitchford owns a 108-year old home on Lembeck Avenue. He said he and his neighbors wished to be included in the zone.
"I have nothing against development but I have a large, 108-year old home, and one day when I sell the house, I would hope they would build another home of the same size," said Pitchford.
Ward A Councilman Michael Sottolano, who represents the Greenville section of the city, said after the meeting that he had moved to have the Greenville blocks taken out only because there was initially very little support. But Sottolano said he is holding a meeting on the R1-A zoning for his constituents scheduled for this coming Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the Greenville American Little League Field House on Caven Point Road. Can't afford to approve everything
The City Council at its Monday caucus took issue with various resolutions to set aside about $1.5 million for affordable housing. Speaking on behalf of the resolutions was the director of the city's Division of Community Development Darrice Toon Bell.
The first four ordinances authorized about $1.2M in affordable housing trust fund monies to go to affordable housing projects being built by the Jersey City Episcopal Community Development Corp. (JCECDC) and JP Affordable Housing respectively. The fifth resolution allotted $250,000 to go to the LISC (Local Initiative Support Corporation) Greater Newark and Jersey City, a non-profit organization that helps entities building affordable housing by providing technical assistance and financial support.
But concerns were raised by various council members, which led to the withdrawing of the resolutions on Wednesday that approved $234,000 to the JCECDC for the construction of a four two-family homes on Wegman Parkway, and Orient and Rutgers avenues, and the resolution pertaining to the LISC.
Business Administrator Brian O'Reilly and City Council President Mariano Vega were not in agreement with the two-family homes project because they thought the size for the two- and three-family homes was too large to be affordable housing. Bell said the homes are being built to accommodate larger families.
O'Reilly and Vega also said they did not appreciate that information on these resolutions was not available for them when they were putting together the City Council agenda the week before the actual meeting. Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org