Court rules against city of Hoboken regarding Monarch waterfront development; says city waited too long

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HOBOKEN – Mayor Dawn Zimmer said this week that the city will continue its litigation over the Monarch development proposal for the city’s northeastern waterfront. The Monarch residential development was proposed by Shipyard Associates, a longtime Hoboken developer who’s already built the luxury Shipyard project on the waterfront.
On Aug. 2, the Superior Court of NJ Appellate Division ruled in favor of Shipyard, approving their plan. The ruling followed past decisions in favor of the project.
Zimmer said on Thursday, “Despite this setback, I am directing our legal team to continue the legal battle by requesting certification from the Supreme Court to hear this matter,” stated Zimmer in an email to the public.
The court said that the city waited too long to sue, and complained that in general, “local governments should not give developers the runaround.”
More specifically, the court stated, “The two principal statutes on which our decision rests… represent the Legislature’s considered policy judgment that land use applications should be heard promptly and local governments should not give developers the runaround…In this case, implementing those two statutes requires automatic approval of Shipyard’s application.”
The developers of the project want to build two 11-story towers near Sinatra Drive and Shipyard Lane, with 78 residential units. The city, the Fund for a Better Waterfront, and the Tea Building Condo Association are involved in litigation to hold the development to a 1997 plan that included three tennis courts and a tennis pavilion on the North Pier.
According to the court, the plan changes were automatically approved after the Planning Board failed to hear the developers’ application and come to a decision in a timely manner.
“If there is a lesson to be learned from this case, it is that the rule of law is paramount and cannot be sidestepped to avoid deciding unpopular land use applications,” the court added. “As here, failure to follow the law may insure the success of an application that local objectors vigorously oppose… [The] Planning Board was obligated to hear Shipyard’s application, no matter how controversial it was…But, because the Planning Board yielded to public pressure, and refused to hear Shipyard’s application, the result is automatic approval of the application.”
The court additionally noted that the developers will have to provide a public waterfront walkway, as is part of state law requiring all waterfront developers in Hudson County to contribute a segment of a walkway from Bayonne to the George Washington Bridge.
“We are pleased with the New Jersey Appellate Division’s opinion today to uphold previous court decisions and recognize Shipyard Associates, L.P.’s legitimate rights under zoning law to pursue development of The Monarch project in Hoboken,” said Kevin J. Coakley, the developer’s attorney. “Our client looks forward to completing The Shipyard development.”