The proposed South Paterson special improvement district which was slated for a preliminary vote next week was postponed on Wednesday evening as two groups figure out a way to settle differences over boundaries of the district.
Ekaterina Valiotis of Alma Realty, who opposes the inclusion of her Getty Avenue warehouse within the district, has indicated she’s willing to take matters to court, according to city officials.
Kenneth Morris, councilman at-large, said the real estate firm would be suing Millennium Strategies, the firm that conducted the district’s feasibility study, and the Paterson Restoration Corporation, which funded the study.
He said the city will be included in the legal action if it acts on an ordinance approving district’s boundaries. “If the council takes no actions we can’t be a named party,” he said.
Morris said Valiotis has put the council on notice. “You can only be exposed if you have done something that makes you a litigant,” said Domenick Stampone, city law director, confirming the legal notice.
“That is not something anybody would like to see,” said Stuart Koperweis, executive vice-president of economic development and revitalization, at Millennium Strategies, about the potential legal action.
The irregular boundaries of the district include large warehouses on Getty and Madison avenues which is what fueled the opposition. Those property owners argue they are not in need of what the district will provide. They say they maintain their properties and do not have the same needs as the mostly storefronts of Main Street.
Throughout Wednesday evening, on the sidelines of the council deliberations, the two groups held heated discussions in the council’s anteroom on the third floor. “We’ve had passionate conversations with my neighbors, and we’ve agreed to meet,” said Valiotis.
She said both groups will meet to hash out the differences. For two years the steering committee and the opposition met, but were unable to sort out the difference. “If you’ve been talking to the objectors for two years and they are still objecting that’s indicative there’s a major problem,” said McKoy.
“It’s indicative they don’t want to be part of the district,” said Koperweis.
Valiotis asked the council to postpone the process through which the boundaries of the districts would be legally solidified.
“I want the opportunity to meet with my neighbors and have that conversation without the process creeping upon us,” she said.
“We’re going to sit down and hash out any problems and disputes we may have before we come back to the council,” said Al Abdelaziz, who lives on Main Street.
Abdelaziz, who is likely to run in next year’s municipal election in the 6th Ward, said, “The boundaries reflect what South Paterson is about. That’s the gateway. That’s the welcome area.”
James Staton, 1st Ward councilman, said he was happy to see the two parties are willing to speak to each other to settle the matter.
McKoy said it doesn’t make sense to force property owners to join a district that they do not wish to be part of. “Where something is good people flock to it. Where there’s a benefit people want to be in it,” he said. “Demonstrate that there’s a benefit. The boundaries can always be expanded.”