Two of the city’s board of adjustment members involved in a controversy lost seats on Friday when council members opted to appoint new members to the board.
Geraldine Rayfield and Alaur Khondokar were not re-appointed to the board of adjustment which has been dysfunctional in the past year due to alleged prejudice, racism, and hostilities between members.
Rayfield was replaced by community activist Roger Grier while Khondokar was replaced by Jersey City police officer Ehab Abdelaziz.
At-large councilwoman Maritza Davila appointed Ehab Abdelaziz to the board, which grants variances to developers to build in parts of the city not zoned for certain purposes, to replace Khondokar.
Khondokar was appointed by former councilman Rigo Rodriguez.
Ehab Abdelaziz is the brother of former 6th Ward council candidate Al Abdelaziz. Al Abdelaziz serves as the vice-chairman of the city’s planning board.
4th Ward councilwoman Ruby Cotton appointed Grier to replace Rayfield.
“Rayfield did an excellent job. I had re-appointed her twice already. I just decided to go with Roger Grier,” said Cotton on Tuesday morning. “I know Roger Grier is going to get there and he’s going to do a fine job knowing his background in building maintenance and planning. He has the background to sit on that board.”
When asked if the board of adjustment controversy played a role in her decision, Cotton said, “It had nothing to do with my decision.”
Rayfield was first appointed by former councilwoman Vera Ames-Garnes. Cotton said Rayfield served on the board for nine years.
Rayfield is at the center of the controversy in which three Muslim board members – Khondokar, Aheya Khan, and Montaha Deeb — alleged they were being targeted with prejudice at board meetings.
Council members held a series of hearings in which they interviewed Khan and Rayfield earlier in the year to resolve the dysfunction at the board.
The council’s inquiry has yet to be completed.
Council president William McKoy said the council will discuss the direction in which to move on the inquiry at its workshop meeting tomorrow.
“I don’t think it resolves the issue,” said McKoy when asked whether Rayfield’s removal resolves the controversy.
The council unanimously appointed Abdelaziz, Grier and re-appointed Lee Mondelli to the board of adjustment. Andre Sayegh, 6th Ward councilman, re-appointed Mondelli.
Luis Velez nominated Ramon Joaquin as an alternative member to the board. Joaquin’s two-year term appointment is pending a resolution and vote.
Abdelaziz, Grier, and Mondelli received four-year terms.
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This report was last updated on July 5th, 2016 at 5:10 p.m.