News briefs from the local area

A trouble-plagued bar in East Newark was ordered shut for six months by the Borough Council on Jan. 25 after the council concluded that the  Ambatenita Bar & Restaurant, 415 N. Third St., violated a Dec. 14, 2011, consent order.
The closing runs through June 30, at which point the licensee, Jorge Beltran, will have to apply for a license renewal, according to borough officials.
Police Chief Ken Sheehan said the bar failed to live up to one of the conditions in the consent order mandating a 10 p.m. closing on certain days. Sheehan said police, acting on a neighbor’s tip, visited the bar at 10:20 p.m. on Jan. 8 and found customers still being served.
Mayor Joseph Smith said the licensee, accompanied by his Newark attorney Fausto Simoes, offered no defense against the charge and accepted the penalty of six-month suspension of his liquor license.
Smith said that Beltran has operated the bar since 2007.
The Belleville Zoning Board of Adjustment voted Feb. 2 to approve a controversial plan by Peter Garofalo to operate a roll-off container yard at 95-107 Roosevelt Ave., despite opposition by neighbors.
However, at the suggestion of its planner John Madden, the board attached a list of conditions under which Garofalo’s business can function at the site.
Neighbors worried that a roll-off yard would bring unwanted traffic, noise and pollution.
But the zoning board noted that if the site were developed as a trucking terminal – which is a permitted use in this zone – there could be as many as 60 trucks driving in and out of the property – a much more “intensive” use that the one the applicant was proposing.
In any event, the board stipulated that Garofalo could store roll-off containers overnight on the 17,600 square foot lot only if he arranged for vehicles to enter and exit the property in the “forward” position and that they could safety maneuver; kept the containers empty of debris; kept no more than 40 on site; didn’t stack the containers; hauled only construction debris and no hazardous wastes or household trash; used the site exclusively for his business; provided 3/4-inch clean stone gravel surface; conducted no “major truck repairs” on site; vacuumed debris from his dumpsters on a daily basis; installed slat-fencing and landscaping in the rear and front of the property; and put in a guard rail as a buffer to neighbors’ properties.
Garofalo, who was represented by attorney Robert Gaccione, said he’d operate the business from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the week and from 7 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.
The board agreed to defer to April a ruling on an application by St. Mary and St. Mercurius Coptic Church to demolish three homes and another structure and build a dome-shaped youth center with parking at 125 Academy St.
Starting this year, town residents will go the polls in November – the same time as the general election – to choose candidates for the Kearny Board of Education.
The mayor and Town Council voted Jan. 24 to move the school election from April to November (as did the Board of Education on Jan. 17), as permitted by a newly passed state law signed by Gov. Christie.
Residents won’t have to vote on the school budget unless the Board of Education exceeds a state-mandated 2% tax levy cap, said Mayor Alberto Santos. In that event, the budget would face a public vote in November, he said.
Santos said that taxpayers will realize a $30,000 savings in costs for election board workers, voting machine transport, rental of polling places and overtime by consolidating the two elections to one ballot in November and, at the same time, the town should see a bigger turnout for the school balloting, which has, typically, been low. The April 2011 school election, for example, drew only 14% of the electorate, according to Santos.
Candidates for school board must file nominating petitions with the Hudson County Clerk’s Office by 4 p.m. on June 5, when the primary election is scheduled. Those school trustees whose terms would normally expire with the April election will continue as holdovers until year’s end, Santos said.
– Ron Leir

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