Developer’s plans get hearing in Union City after lengthy lawsuit

Hudson Yards West, LLC seeks to build 78-unit mixed-use development

Photo courtesy Google Maps.

More than two years ago, developer Hudson Yards West, LLC proposed constructing a mixed-use development at 3308 Palisade Ave. and 3309 Hudson Ave. in Union City.

In the first proposal, the developer sought approval for a project that would comprise 74 residential units, two commercial units, and 90 parking spaces, seeking variances for minimum yard space, maximum building coverage, and parking.

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Over the course of several Union City planning board hearings, the developer proposed a variety of size, density, and parking options, but the Union City Planning Board unanimously rejected the proposal.

At the final meeting in January 2018, an attorney and planners from Hudson Yards West presented the planning board with a 74-unit “base plan” that included several variances, along with a 90-unit alternative plan that did not include any variances.

Planning Board officials took issue with the fact that neither plan contained an “affordable housing” component, and had other issues with the impact the development would have on the area.

What about affordable housing?

“We cannot seem to agree on the building, the configuration, and so forth,” Planning Board Chair Diane Capizzi said before making a motion to deny the plan. “There are a few other issues that I have. I believe that there’s no topographical survey that was submitted, and without a survey, I don’t know how the determination of the lower level being a story can be established. Based on that, the building must be classified a seven story, not a six story as presented. Another issue I have is no affordable housing component to the application. Based on what some of the neighbors say, they have great concerns about the general safety and impact on the area with this project.”

About two months after its plan was rejected, Hudson Yards West filed a lawsuit against the Union City Planning Board. A judge overturned the planning board’s rejection of the developer’s proposal.

The Union City Planning Board will hold what’s known as a “Whispering Woods” hearing, which was named after a 1987 New Jersey Superior Court case in which a developer won the right to another public hearing on a plan amended through Superior Court.

Union City and the developer reached a tentative settlement agreement through litigation. The planning board is now required to hold another public hearing on an amended version of the proposal.

It will decide whether to ratify a 78-unit proposal from the Superior Court settlement, because a public hearing and vote are still required of the planning board. The hearing was originally slated for a special meeting on Nov. 12, but the planning board trustees rescheduled the matter for Nov. 26.

The plan that came out of the settlement includes 78 total residential units. The mix includes 16 one-bedroom units, 52 two-bedroom units, and 10 three-bedroom units. The approved plan also calls for 4,000 square feet of commercial space and 155 parking spaces on the premises.

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