During the July 7th municipal budget workshop, Roselle Park resident Joe Meola commented on AvalonBay during the public portion of the meeting.
“I hope what they wanted was just a change in the number of garbage cans like from five to six or something like that and that we said yes to them and we don’t have to spend any money on legal fees,” Mr. Meola stated with respect to what was being asked to be re-negotiated by AvalonBay Communities, “But if we do have to, I’d like to see us look for different lawyers than we used last time. Somebody that will have a different outlook on the whole situation. Be able to review what was done. But I’m sure.. it’s going to be something simple.”
Mr. Meola was referring to the law offices of Jeffrey R. Surenian & Associates, who previously advised and was involved in the original negotiations the municipality had with AvalonBay which resulted in the developer paying 10% on an agreed upon PILOT (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes) program.
“The legal fees on Romerovski, we capped at $2,500. I wish it was as simple as the trash cans. I can’t get into what it was,” Mayor Joseph Accardi responded after Mr. Meola ended his comments, “In terms of an update, I received a phone call this morning that I haven’t even spoken to council about where I made it clear that we don’t want to spend a lot of money to re-negotiate anything with AvalonBay.”
Mayor Accardi reminded Mr. Meola of his stance with regard to AvalonBay’s negotiations in 2009, “As you probably recall, I was one of the bigger opponents to the PILOT program we ended up getting from AvalonBay. So I hope, at the very least, you understand that everybody on council is concerned about what’s going on and we don’t want to be in a situation again where we end up spending a lot of money on legal fees unnecessarily. We are approaching it with a bit of caution and trying to do what’s best for the community and in terms of different council we had actually talked about hiring different council and it was agreed that the cost of bringing any council up to speed on the litigation would exceed the cost of what we’ve allotted so far for the current council to continue on the case.”