At its meeting on Nov. 28, the Jersey City Municipal Council introduced an ordinance that would allow for the construction of a new skyscraper in Journal Square: a 35-story building at 701 Newark Ave. where there is currently a parking lot. 

Requested by city business administrator John Metro, the ordinance would amend the Journal Square 2060 Redevelopment Plan and allow for an unrestricted number of units per acre (or floor area ratio). Instead, the developer would be constrained by area, yard, and bulk requirements.

According to Metro, the building would be eligible for a 20 percent affordable housing bonus (also known as the Homestead Place Extension Bonus) and an office space bonus that would permit two additional stories if they were reserved for office space.

Metro said the city Planning Board recommended adoption of the amendments following a November 15 public hearing on the plan.

On the employee labor front, the council ratified a long-awaited renewal of a labor contract with the city’s school traffic guards, represented by Public Employees Union Local 245.  The old contract expired Jan. 1, 2017 and its replacement runs through Dec. 31, 2026. 

Among the gains won by the guards were: increased hourly salaries over the life of the pact from $15.50 to $22; three more holiday days; $10,000 in life insurance; and enrollment in a family optical plan valued at $225 a year.

In addition, guards who’ve completed a full school year of service beginning with the 2021-2022 school year will get 10 paid sick days a year. 

The council withdrew an ordinance that would have permitted property owners to arrange themselves to have nearby lead-affected water lines replaced rather than have the Jersey City Municipal Utilities Authority do the work. 

Under a law signed by the governor, New Jersey municipalities have until July 31, 3031, to remove toxic lead lines and install new copper pipes. 

According to Metro, “a lot of questions” had been raised about the draft ordinance, which didn’t mention any provision for property owners to be reimbursed for the costs of independently contracted work. He suggested the council table the ordinance on the matter until it was revised by the city. 

The council withdrew a resolution for the Museum of Jersey City History to sign a multi-year lease for space at the Apple Tree House at 298 Academy Street. According to museum board chairman Martin Pierce, the city tabled action on the agreement in order to clarify language concerning use of attic space for exhibitions. Pierce said he expected the council to vote on the lease later this month.

The council passed an ordinance to hire two deputy clerks in the Office of the City Clerk: one to supervise the Division of Government Records (which handles matters such as OPRA requests) and the other to supervise the Division of Vital Records (concerning documents such as marriage licenses).

The council agreed to extend a two-year $250,000 contract with Street Plans Collaborative, Inc., of Brooklyn, N.Y., for another year for an additional $100,000 to provide “additional transportation planning and design services to execute projects associated with the Vision Zero Action Plan, the JC Walks Pedestrian Enhancement Plan, the Let’s Ride JC Bicycle Master Plan and the Year of Open Space Campaign.”

And the council accepted the recommendation of the Jersey City Arts Council to appoint NJCU English professor Ann E. Wallace as the city’s third poet laureate. A published essayist and a public speaker, Wallace recently penned “Days of Grace and Silence,” a collection of poetry about her experience with acute COVID.  

The council resolved to create the position of poet laureate in 2018. According to the resolution, in her role as poet laureate, Wallace will nurture appreciation of poetry and literature and serve as the city’s literary ambassador at events that promote literary arts. 

Ron Leir has been a journalist since 1972. That includes a 37-year stint as a reporter, copy reader and assistant editor with The Jersey Journal, followed by a decade as a reporter with The Observer in...