News in brief

Pechter’s Bakery going high tech


A longtime Harrison business is automating but, reportedly, no employees’ jobs will be threatened.

Salvatore Battaglia, an owner of RP Baking LLC (Pechter’s Bakery), told members of the Harrison Zoning Board of Adjustment that the company had no plans to drop any of its workers.

Nor, Battaglia added, would any additional workers be hired as a result of the proposed improvements which will facilitate additional shipments of bread to Texas in refrigerated tractor-trailer trucks.

Despite concerns raised by neighbors about traffic issues, the board granted site plan approval and a “D” variance allowing the industrial bakery to raise the roof of its building at 840 Jersey St. — 28 feet above the first floor on the west side to accommodate new machinery and to install three new loading bays.

At the same time, the company will be permitted to demolish 21,115 square-feet of space — including an old fire escape — on the building’s southwest side (facing Supor Boulevard) to clear the way for new loading bays and to add two handicapped parking spaces.

The project will yield a “net reduction” of 750 square feet, although the footprint of the building will remain the same, according to company representatives.

RP plans to do the work in two phases, starting with the demolition for which it has already applied for a permit from the town’s construction office. No timetable was given for the project.

Several residents from Manor Ave. said they’d like to see the company avoid using that block for their truck deliveries and Battaglia said he would take their concerns under consideration. To oblige neighbors, RP would have to figure out an alternative route to deliver supplies to a nearby warehouse. But any traffic changes would have to be brought before the mayor and Town Council for consideration.

The company represented that there would be fewer carbon emissions from the baking process because of a new technology involving the use of bacteria in the process.

New A/V system for council chambers?


Members of the Kearny municipal governing body were poised for roll call to start their Aug. 8 meeting, but it didn’t quite come off.

Instead, a malfunction of unknown origin in the electronic AV system triggered a 30-minute delay in the start of the session.

Two of the six TV screens mounted in the council chambers were blank and, until the system could properly function, the council meeting could not be broadcast on either Verizon Fios or Comcast.

It took a call to Michael Martello, the newly retired town business administrator, now living in South Carolina, to get guidance on a possible fix which ultimately was secured with a re-boot of the system.

Mayor Alberto Santos said that steps are being taken to provide a more permanent remedy to quirks in what town IT expert Dinis Conceicao described as a cable cx coax system.

“Two months ago,” the mayor said, “we set up a committee of Councilman Peter Santana, [B.A.] Bob Smith, Dinis Conceicao and me to review all of the town’s current technology (computers, servers, phones) and technology security measures in place.

“The recording system in the chambers is part of that review. The microphones [on the council dais and speaker’s lectern] pre-date me and are at least 20 years old; the recording cameras are approximately 14 years old.”

Kearny has televised its [council] meetings since 2000 …. Initially, we used a traditional recording camera on a tripod. About 14 years ago, we installed in the Town Hall chamber television monitors and a camera that’s built into the back wall which is used to record meetings.

“While the video is of adequate quality, the audio is sometimes too low or, as occurred at the last meeting, only came on after we re-booted the system twice.”

Santos said the committee has yet to make any recommendations so there are no cost projections for a new system.

Only 30 tax appeals in 2017: Peneda


Of more than 7,000 residential properties in Kearny, only 30 – less than 1% — were the subject of property assessment/tax appeals for 2017, reported town tax assessor John Peneda.

When the smoke cleared, Peneda said, “the town gave back $128,000 in assessment dollars, which translates to $13,600 in taxes.”

Thirteen of the 30 appeals were withdrawn by the property owners “after we presented our evidence” in Hudson County Tax Court, he said. Seven other cases “were dismissed” and “we reached settlements on the remaining appeals,” he added.

Peneda said the single biggest giveback by the town was $18,400 in assessment dollars for a property on Belgrove Drive.

“This is the lowest number of [residential] appeals and the lowest amount of tax refunds we’ve ended up with by a long shot, since 2013,” the assessor noted, probably due to the fact that “real estate prices are going up.”

Peneda said the town’s 7,126 residential properties have a total current assessed value of $679,359,040.

Of 13 commercial appeals filed this year, mostly by small business owners on Kearny Ave., “we settled five, two withdrew and the rest moved on to Tax Court,” he said. Corresponding figures for these cases were not readily available.

Ten industrial appeals, led by PSE&G, are pending in State Tax Court, he said.

– Ron Leir





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