A series of bills geared to help Paterson revitalize crime-ridden neighborhoods gained senate approval on Thursday afternoon.
One bill paves the way for the Paterson to become a first-class city to better regulate liquor licenses, another creates a land bank program that will lets the city take, hold, and sell abandoned and foreclosed properties.
A third bill creates a new expungement procedure that will let individuals with past minor charges that were dismissed or later proved unfounded secure law enforcement jobs.
The bills were advanced by Senator Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen/Passaic), Senator Nellie Pou (D-Bergen/Passaic) and Senator M. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex), and Senate President Steve Sweeney. Senate leaders visited Paterson and walked through the city’s gritty neighborhoods with Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres in March.
Senators approved the bill, S-2976, which will lower the population threshold for first-class cities from 150,000 to 100,000 allowing Paterson and Elizabeth to get a better handle on their liquor stores and bars.
First-class cities have the power to regulate hours of sales alcoholic beverages. The bill to let Paterson join Jersey City and Newark to become a first-class city passed without any opposition in a 40-0 vote.
The land bank bill, S-2867, was passed in a 24-16 vote. This measure cities suffering from large number of abandoned properties and foreclosures to take control of those properties, put them on the market, and use the proceeds for redevelopment. The city has more than 1200 abandoned properties that are used by drug addicts to shoot up and drug dealers to hide supplies and stash guns.
The third bill, S-2975, will allow the city to enhance its recruitment by creating a pilot program with new expungement procedures so that law enforcement applicants are not rejected based on past charges for minor offenses that were dismissed or proven unfounded. This bill was approved in a 23-16 vote.
The three bills will now head to the New Jersey General Assembly for consideration.