Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

2 Boards Face Merger in Englewood Cliffs

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

2 Boards Face Merger in Englewood Cliffs

Article excerpt

ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS -- The Board of Adjustment will reorganize tonight, even though the Borough Council may vote to dissolve the body on Wednesday.

The board president, Russell Porrino, is encouraging residents to attend the meeting at 7:30 p.m. in the municipal court at 10 Kahn Terrace to show support for the board, which has existed for decades.

"We as a board have to continue to function," he said adding that the board has unfinished business to discuss. "I'm trying to do what's right here, and we are a truly independent board."

Mayor Joseph Parisi Jr. announced during the council reorganization meeting on Jan. 7 that he wanted to dissolve the board and transfer its authority to the Planning Board.

"I just think we need to look at fresh ideas," Parisi said last week. "We need to look outside the box. It's not a major cost savings, but there may be some. It will be less duplication."

Councilwoman objects

The council voted 5-1 to introduce an ordinance that would disband the Board of Adjustment. Councilwoman Carrol McMorrow, the sole Republican on the governing body, voted against it.

"I find it unbelievable that Mayor Parisi introduced an ordinance of this magnitude to dissolve our long-standing Board of Adjustment at a reorganization meeting, where it was not even on the agenda," she said in an interview last week.

Although the ordinance was not on the agenda, under zoning board appointments, it stated all members would serve in a hold-over capacity and that Parisi's Planning Board appointments were "subject to dissolution of the Board of Adjustment." While the mayor appoints the Planning Board, the council selects Board of Adjustment appointees.

"Our residents and our volunteers on that board deserve better than this," McMorrow said. "Mayor Parisi said transparency was opaque last year. But in my opinion, his actions at the reorganization meeting show that his idea of transparency is clearly behind a closed curtain."

Defended by mayor

Porrino, the Board of Adjustment president, said that he was not notified of the action before the meeting and added that no zoning board terms were expiring. He also said that the two zoning board members -- Steve Duffy and Vincent Surance -- who were named Planning Board alternates were the only Board of Adjustment members appointed when the Democrats controlled the council. …

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