Bergenfield Council Greenlights Redevelopment, Amidst Concerns and Celebrations

In a recent meeting, the Bergenfield Borough Council, led by Mayor Arvin Amatorio, convened to discuss and decide on a series of community developments. The meeting, held on September 5, 2023, was marked by the unanimous approval of a transformative redevelopment plan for Washington Avenue and Main Street, amidst voiced concerns over building standards and potential traffic issues.

The focal point of the meeting was the presentation by Lyndsay Knight from Neglia Engineering Group, outlining a redevelopment plan that aims to breathe new life into several properties at Washington Avenue and Main Street. The proposal includes the construction of multi-family residential mixed-use buildings, with ground-floor retail and a mandatory 20% set aside for affordable housing, totaling a maximum of 220 units. The design promises aesthetically pleasing architecture, compatible with the downtown area, and includes provisions for street widening, on-street parking, and bike parking.

Council members Ora C. Kornbluth and Buddy Deauna raised concerns about the proposed building and impervious coverage standards, questioning the potential for flooding and the variance in building stories due to the dramatic slope changes across the properties. Thomas A. Lodato expressed reservations about the modifications to the master plan and the increase in building stories on the narrow Washington Avenue. Ms. Knight addressed these concerns, emphasizing adherence to ordinances and thorough review of any application brought forth.

Borough Attorney John Schettino and Mayor Amatorio further discussed the redevelopment, focusing on aligning the project with the town’s goals for enhancing the business district and ensuring financial benefits for developers. Questions about the construction timeline were addressed, estimating a minimum of two years from site plan approval.

In addition to the redevelopment plan, the Council introduced two ordinances, one amending Chapter 299 of the Borough Code related to vehicles and traffic, and the other adopting the redevelopment plan for specific lots on Washington Ave. and Main Street. Both were scheduled for hearings, with council members voting on their introduction.

Borough Administrator Corey Gallo provided updates on various ongoing projects and community events, including the completion of lighting at Twin Boro Field, progress on the new municipal building, and collaborations with DEP for plantings and flood mitigation at Coopers Pond. The community’s efforts in bringing the Vietnam Moving Wall to Bergenfield were highlighted, with Councilperson Hernando Rivera and Mayor Amatorio expressing gratitude for the collaboration and participation in commemorating the 50th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War.

Residents also had the opportunity to voice their concerns during the public comments section, with issues ranging from parking situations on Washington Avenue to the presence of people in a barbershop with a red sticker. Borough Administrator Gallo addressed these concerns, ensuring that the issues raised would be addressed promptly.

The meeting also saw the approval of several resolutions, including personnel actions and hiring, with all members present voting in favor. Councilperson Deauna paid tribute to Barbara Chittum, and the governing body thanked everyone for attending the meeting.

The evening began with a moment of reflection for Barbara Chittum, a dedicated borough resident and former member of the Bergenfield Public Library Board of Trustees, followed by the promotion of Detective Rick Tauber to Sergeant. Tauber, a United States Army and Infantry Veteran, has been recognized for his community engagement efforts and work on biased crime investigations since joining the force in 2015. The Council and Mayor Amatorio extended their congratulations and well-wishes for his continued contribution to community safety.

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