Hackensack City Council Discusses Private Towing Ordinance and Major City Projects, Member Faces Criticism

In a detailed Hackensack City Council meeting, a wide range of topics were covered, most notably the comprehensive amendments to the private towing ordinance that has not been updated since 1952 and a dispute between a council member and a resident. Alongside this, discussions included updates on various city infrastructure projects and resolutions for health department issues, as well as a ceremony honoring newly sworn-in police lieutenants Matthew Schwartz and John Suarez.

Opening the floor to the work session, Mayor John Labrosse emphasized the necessity to amend the existing, antiquated private towing ordinance dating back to 1952. Addressing the concerns raised by property owners about private tows from private lands, a representative underscored that the amendments would promote a “clear transparent process.” According to the proposed changes to Chapter 127 of the city code, property owners can opt to notify the police to issue a summons during towing incidents or choose to handle it privately, provided they comply with the New Jersey Predatory Towing Act. The revamped rules dictate notifying the police before towing to avoid legal ramifications.

During the public comments portion of the meeting, a resident addressed council member Stephanie Von Rudenborg, accusing her of using her children as “collateral damage” in a previous statement that was delivered in a prior council meeting. The resident suggested that using one’s children in such a manner is “embarrassing” and that Von Rudenborg “should be ashamed” of utilizing her children to craft a retaliatory statement directed at the resident.

Following the resident’s remarks, Von Rudenborg refuted the accusation by emphasizing that she had used the reference to her children in the previous meeting to illustrate the family values they uphold, and to denote the guidelines she has established at her home concerning what is permitted. Von Rudenborg highlighted a conversation she had with her 13-year-old child who affirmed that the allegations leveraged against her were “ridiculous.” Furthermore, Von Rudenborg noted her strict stance against allowing her 13-year-old to listen to music containing explicit words, a rule that seemed to be central to the dispute. Von Rudenborg found the accusation to be groundless and indicated that the resident could potentially face legal consequences for perpetuating what Von Rudenborg regarded as falsehoods regarding her personal and familial conduct. She closed her response by urging the resident to abstain from fabricating statements that portrayed her in false lights, underscoring the severity of the issue by mentioning possible involvement of her attorney should the resident continue her current line of argumentation.

Chris Wheaton, the city engineer, outlined notable advancements in city projects focusing on CSO stormwater undertakings aimed at curtailing flooding and managing sewer overflows. These efforts encompassed several initiatives, including the beginning of the Anderson Street drainage area project and ongoing coordination for the Voorhees Lane pump station overhaul. The segment also spotlighted upcoming parks projects with demolition work at Carver Park leading the charge, and a synergized approach for Polyfly Park’s drainage enhancement involving various stakeholders such as DEP and school superintendents. Ensuing was the unveiling of artistic rain barrels at Carver Park, a Northern New Jersey Community Foundation initiative designed to elevate environmental consciousness.

The session shifted to focus on the John Earl building renovation, which is now slated for completion in May 2024, pushing the council members to advocate for advanced project scheduling tools to optimize workflow. They highlighted the necessity to speed up the initiation of the actual construction, calling for improved coordination to avoid future delays.

The public showed keen interest in the progress of the broader crosswalk project, notably the Prospect and Atlantic crosswalk. Concerns were voiced regarding the dormant $420,000 grant meant for traffic safety enhancements on Prospect Avenue. The council elaborated on the financial dynamics of the project, assuring that it would be incorporated into their future project schedules.

In a ceremonious segment of the meeting, police lieutenants Matthew Schwartz and John Suarez were sworn in. Following this, Mayor John Labrosse made two proclamations, declaring efforts against opioid abuse and advocating for hunger alleviation in Bergen County.

The session concluded with the council urging residents to remain informed about new recreational programs and endorsing community efforts to reduce air traffic noise through a petition.

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