Experts spent hours at a Planning Board meeting a week ago Thursday discussing the soil stability and potential rock removal at a controversial development site in North Bergen near the Guttenberg border.
The proposed Appleview condo development is controversial for a number of reasons. Residents are concerned that it will be built near a high-pressure natural gas line. It’s also being built at the Palisades Cliffs, and preservationists are concerned about removing portions of the land. The town and county Planning Boards have been holding hearings on the application for over three years.
Among those protesting the project are residents of the nearby Galaxy Towers condominium buildings in Guttenberg. Also protesting is an activist group called the North Bergen Concerned Citizens, who chartered a bus to bring opponents to the recent meeting.
At the July 26 meeting, Attorney John Lamb, representing the Galaxy residents, cross examined Calisto Bertin from Bertin Engineering Associates, working on behalf of the Appleview developers.
“We continue to argue at the podium but we also continue to provide every courtesy to each other.” – Appleview Attorney Carmine Alampi
At the meeting, members of the public and Lamb discussed concerns that rocks and soil could slide off the Palisade Cliff toward River Road during construction.
Bertin testified that there would be 2,200 cubic yards of soil removed or excavated from the site, but some of it will be used to level off the area.
Lamb said he considered this a “substantial removal” of soil.
The crowd began murmuring when the witnesses referred to potential rock removal.
“[There will be] some rock removal but not a lot,” said Bertin. “A substantial part of this slope is already stabilized by prior owners or users of the property.”
A slope has to remain to facilitate groundwater runoff, with the assistance of a drainage system that will be placed on the northern part of the property, he said.
To blast or not to blast
Lisa Mahle-Greco of Johnson Soils Company conducted a more recent slope stability report for Appleview, and also answered questions at the hearing.
Residents began asking whether there would be blasting at the site.
Both Mahle-Greco and Bertin said that the rock removal would mainly be loose rock that would just be moved, rather than blasted. They both said that there won’t be a substantial excavation of the slope.
Appleview Attorney Carmine Alampi said at the meeting that the lines of communication among the attorneys on various sides of this project.
“We have some disagreements amongst ourselves as to where we’re going, but we’re here on a continuous basis,” said Alampi.
Alampi said that, for example, Lamb contacted him via email to allow a geotechnical consultant to be escorted onto the premises. Alampi said he cooperated with the request.
“We continue to argue at the podium but we also continue to provide every courtesy to each other and extend the opportunity to inspect the property, because after all, we want a fully complete presentation,” said Alampi.
The next two hearings on the project are scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 28 and Sept. 20.
Vanessa Cruz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org