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New Jersey Appleseed Public Interest Law Center : Referendum Petitioning

Ridgewood garage referendum

Ridgewood friends,

If it weren’t for the guidance and extensive knowledge of Renee Steinhagen, Executive Director of NJ Appleseed, we would be dealing with a massive parking garage, encroaching halfway into Hudson Street, being funded, built and run by the BCIA. Renee and her staff gave us the tools we needed to defeat the massive garage proposals. They have extensive knowledge of referendum petitioning, and were incredibly supportive.

When asked to send to send a bill, Renee said she will not, but rather requested our group contribute to NJ Appleseed, so that they can continue their mission:
“New Jersey Appleseed Public Interest Law Center is a non-partisan, not-for-profit 501(c)(3) corporation. For over 10 years, we’ve striven to correct systemic problems that are at the root of injustice in our state.”

This is the link to donate online. Share this link with your Ridgewood friends!

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Village manager Roberta Sonenfeld is at it once again

Village manager Roberta Sonenfeld disrupting petitioners
March 31,2016

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, Village manager Roberta Sonenfeld is at it once again . Sonenfeld attempted to disrupt “petition signers” on this past Easter weekend  with high density developer John Saracino . This time the Village manager expressed her concerns in a letter to the “The Ridgewood Daily Voice” .

The Village manager voiced her concerns , claiming petitioners were misrepresenting the Bergen County Improvement Authority (BCIA) bonding referendum, saying ”  village is subject to the referendum provisions of the Faulkner Act and not the Home Rule Act. As a result, since there is no general or regular municipal election scheduled during the allotted time period, a referendum would be required to be held “not less than 40 nor more than 60 days” after the last possible date of withdrawal of the petition by the petitioners. Such a special election would cost Ridgewood taxpayers approximately $40,000 to $45,000.” “

However the Village Council has since voted unanimously to rescind the village’s agreement with the Bergen County Improvement Authority (BCIA) to fund the $11.5 million downtown parking deck.The vote comes on the heels of the  council decision to self-fund the construction of the controversial 325-space parking structure on Hudson Street.

Observers note “I think she is taking this stuff personal.”

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BCIA petition OLMC

Hundreds upon hundreds of Ridgewood taxpayers demand voice on how to fund parking garage.

February 27, 2016


RIDGEWOOD, NJ­ Friday afternoon, in a victory for the voice of the taxpayers and responsible public financing, the NO2BCIA []citizen group delivered over 1300 signatures, more than enough, to force a binding referendum on a Village ordinance that would have the county rather than the Village bond the proposed Hudson Street parking garage.

The Committee of Petitioners was formed in the aftermath of a failure of the Ridgewood Village Council to achieve the 4­1 super­majority vote necessary for the Village to bond the project itself, due to lack of critical design renderings requested by Councilmember Susan Knudsen for the community and Council to review and assess, and the lack of a payment plan to present to taxpayers, as requested by Councilman Sedon.

Instead, a simple majority (3­2) of the Council immediately at the same meeting, introduced Ordinance 3519, an ordinance authorizing the execution and granting of a Lease Purchase Agreement with the Bergen County Improvement Authority.

The petition seeks to protest and repeal Ordinance 3519 until it can be voted on by registered voters of Ridgewood, as a binding referendum question. The Committee of Petitioners seeks to ensure that all aspects of the garage remain securely within the control of the Village.

“This is a huge victory for the residents of Ridgewood who want to have common sense solutions to parking and how it is funded. This petition is not anti­garage. In fact, in talking to the many people who signed, many of them voted for a garage on the non­binding referendum in November. They just want Ridgewood to have full control and flexibility of the pricing structure, especially when it comes to resident and non­resident commuters using the garage.” says Petitioner Lorraine Reynolds. “Now we hope to encourage full Council support for a garage design that meets the wishes of the surrounding community, including shopkeepers, restaurant owners, and most of all, the residents of Ridgewood.”

Petitioner Gail McCarthy adds, “I am very optimistic. ‘Compromise is the best and cheapest lawyer.’ I am pretty sure we would all much rather be spending our time and money shopping in downtown Ridgewood!”

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Ridgewood News, article to try to pressure Mike Sedon and Susan Knudsen to vote for bonding the garage through Ridgewood.


All — On page 3 of the Ridgewood News, there was an article to try to pressure Mike Sedon and Susan Knudsen to vote for bonding the garage through Ridgewood. If you are skeptical of the viability of the proposed garage, please send Mike and Susan an email to let them know to stay firm on their vote and allow the referendum on the BCIA to go forward. Here’s what I sent to them:

Sent: Friday, February 26, 2016 4:23 PM
To: ‘’; ‘’
Cc: ‘’; ‘’; ‘’
Subject: garage

Susan and Michael,

With regards to the full page ad in the Ridgewood News today, I urge you to maintain your position on the bonding of the proposed garage.

I do not believe that a garage in that location will cover its costs and the taxpayers are going to wind up funding it. There is simply not enough demand for parking at the proposed location. There are usually many spots open right across the street. I’d support a smaller structure located more centrally and I know a lot of my fellow residents would too.

Please stay the course and know that most of the residents who voted in support of a garage did not know any specific information at that time therefore there is NO MANDATE to build anything at this time.

Feel free to contact me via email or at 201-445-8222.

Derek Schnure

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BCIA garage is a county owned and operated parking garage , that is paid for by Village of Ridgewood taxpayers

Hudson Street Parking Garage

February 25,2016

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood Nj, The fact is a BCIA garage is a county owned and operated parking garage , that is paid for by Village of Ridgewood taxpayers .The Village gives up all control of the garage and Village residents have no priority.

From the Bergen Record October 13th, 2014 , “The village has been in talks with the Bergen County Improvement Authority (BCIA) for more than a year about a partnership that would ideally result in the county building a 450-space parking garage at the site of the Hudson Street lot, where there are currently only a couple dozen 12-hour metered parking spots.

The county would own and operate the garage, which the village would pay for over the course of 20-30 years from the revenue from the garage.

To put the plan into motion, the freeholders and the county executive both need to sign off on the transferring of funds from the county’s planning department to the BCIA through the approval of the resolution.”


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Reader says Petitioners were welcomed and greeted warmly ar Bergen County Freeholder Meeting

photo courtesy of Maura DeNicola Packed Freeholder Meeting Room for the State of the County

file photo by Freeholder Maura DeNicola

Last night a few of us went to the Freeholders meeting in Hackensack because the introduction of their ordinance to OK the BCIA funding our garage was on the agenda. We were welcomed and greeted warmly. Several came over to us before the meeting, introduced themselves, offered great support and adulation for our grass roots effort with the petition, explained the process, etc.

When one of us was speaking the timer went off, and instead of shutting the speaker down, they asked him politely to wrap it up and let him finish. It was unbelievable. Then I realized it was not unbelievable, it was simply not something that we are accustomed to after being beaten and bashed by the Council majority.

While our mayor calls the petitioners outright liars who are fueled by misinformation, these elected officials applauded our interest and passion. Mayor Aronsohn could take a huge lesson in civility by watching these truly fine individuals in action. Well it won’t be long until the three of them are gone and we will have peace, civility and decency once again.

The freeholders had already met with Aronsohn, of course, and they told us that Aronsohn assured them yesterday afternoon that it was going to be funded by Ridgewood and that he expected to have a vote on this by next week. At that point, we were told, the entire involvement of the BCIA and freeholders would go “poof.” (their word). In the meantime, they told us that they would be voting unanimously last night to approve the funding by the BCIA because they are not involved with design, height, location, or any of that. Their only job is to say yea or nay to the BCIA request, and they had no reason to say nay.

Two takeaways –

1. Aronsohn told them that it is definitely going to be funded in town. Interesting, because last night at the VC he refused to take the BCIA ordinance off the books and he continued to sing the praises of the BCIA.

2. Aronsohn will be taking full credit if it gets funded in town, when in fact the efforts of the petition drive is the sole reason that he got backed into this corner. Power to the people.

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Wednesday Night Council Meeting features Back patting, Bloviation and the usual attacks on the Ridgewod blog

village council meeting

photos by Boyd  Loving
Wednesday Night Council Meeting features Back patting, Bloviation and the usual attacks on the Ridgewod blog
February 25,2016
the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, Recycling bins were blowing all over the place due to the wind but the ” Bloviating” from the council majority was worse and so self serving. Albert praised himself and his cohorts for all the compromising they had done  by making some garage changes. Of course there was no mention of the hundreds of citizens who spent countless hours and money to get them to make the changes that would have  proven disastrous for the Hudson/Broad Street area.

Susan made a point of letting Paul know that his use of the word liar in his email was “unfortunate ” and based on real numbers that the petitioners used was actually untrue on his part.  Albert introduced his ordinance that really amounts to letting people know in committee settings if you will be taping the meeting.  No one except Susan seems to want to address the behavior in the courtroom/ the Dana Glazer incident.  Roberta as usual  spoke for “huge” amounts of time and made many little faces throughout.

Much talk about the BCIA and Paul stated he is in constant contact with them and will be pursuing funding through them while also admitting that funding the garage ourselves is also an option.  Rurik Halaby praised the council majority, spoke negatively about Susan and complained about The Blog but calls it Pravda so no one knows what he is talking about.

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No 2 BCIA is moving forward still collecting signatures in Ridgewood

petition signing event at Elks Club
file photo Elks club by Boyd Loving 
February 24,2016
the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgwood NJ, The Ridgewood Knights of Columbus is the next stop on the signature drive . The Petition seeks to protest and repeal Ordinance 3519,authorizing the execution and granting of a lease purchase agreement until it can be voted on by registered residents of Ridgewood with the Bergen County Improvement Authority (BCIA),as a binding referendum question.

The Ridgewood Knights of Columbus will be open on Thursday from 7:00-10:00pm for those interested in signing the petition. K of C hall is on the corner of Hudson/S. Broad St. To enter the hall, you need to use outdoor staircase facing Hudson Street right across for the proposed parking garage .

According to No 2 BCIA petition signatures are still being collected  They ask you to please reach out to come and sign or visit the website for more locations and information. 201-675-8937.

The No 2BCIA website shows these other contacts :

Lorraine Reynolds house, 550 Wyndemere Ave/come to door off John St.,please call first 201-264-8151
Multiple circulators are ready to come to your place. Please call/text 201-264-8151
Anne Loving, call cell 201-723-8017 to make appt to sign.
Saurabh Dani, call/text cell 973-903-5361 and I will stop by to collect your signature.
Melanie McWilliams – 431 Bogert Ave: call/text to confirm 201-675-8937

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Please remove BCIA funding for Ridgewood garage from 2/24 meeting agenda


file photo by Boyd Loving

February 23, 2016

To the Bergen County Freeholders:

As you may be aware, many Ridgewood residents are opposed to bonding a parking garage in our Central Business District through the county.

A petition has been circulating widely around town to make this issue a referendum on the ballot of the May 10, 2016, election.

A large number of signatures has been obtained. These will be counted and validated shortly–but not bytomorrow.

We urge the Freeholders to refrain from acting on this matter until the referendum issue has been determined. We wish to handle our own project with internal funding.

Should a judge allow the referendum, any decision that you might make tomorrow would be nullified, and you would have wasted your time.

As a Ridgewood resident for 44 years and counting, I want only the best for my town. Self-funding of the parking garage would be far preferable to bringing in the county. I am also concerned about possible ramifications in the future.

Please consider removing from tomorrow’s meeting agenda the item regarding Ridgewood parking garage bond funding.

Thank you very much.


Marcia Ringel

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Reader says the No2BCIA Petition signers need an independent representative present to over see the validity of the the signatures

BCIA petition OLMC

Reader says I do not trust the 3 Amigos (the council majority) or the Village Manager. I just wonder that when these fine people who have put so many hours get resident to sign the garage petitions hand them in will there be an independent representative present to over see the validity of the the signatures? With all of whats been going on surrounding  this garage and the Council majority along with the Village Manager . Will they exert pressure on whomever will be checking. Will the Village Manager or any Council Members be the ones also counting? Residents beware. We have all seen posts on this blog on how our Mayor has brought Hudson County politics to Ridgewood.