The development boom continues in Bayonne with the approval of another multi-story residential building. EOM 90 Ave E Urban Renewal, LLC received approval by the Planning Board to construct a new seven-story multifamily residential building.
While the board had minor nitpicks with the development throughout the presentation, residents who spoke at the public hearing were up in arms over the new seven story mid-rise.
The current property is the former site of Bayonne Stainless warehouse.
Although the developer is referring to the project as 90 Ave E, the development encompasses a number of properties from 90 to 102 Ave E. The site sits on the east side of Ave E, opposite the intersection with 15th Street. The area was slated for redevelopment by a redevelopment study approved in September of 2018.
Attorney Michael Miceli presented the plans before the board at the Feb. 11 meeting. EOM is proposing 70 residential units and 70 parking spaces. The 70 units consist of five studio apartments, 30 one-bedroom apartments, and 35 two-bedroom apartments.
Amenities included in the construction plans include a rooftop terrace, a recreation center, and a landscaped outdoor area. A seven foot fence will also be constructed around the perimeter of the building for security and privacy, the architect told the board.
The apartments on the back side of the building will offer open views of New York City due to the NJ Transit right-of-way. According to the project architect, the back of the irregularly shaped building sits against the NJ Transit and Conrail right of way.
Those city-facing apartments will have small balconies that would overlook the city skyline.
In addition to balconies, a recreation center and rooftop terrace, the developers will also provide parking to the residents of the development.
At the meeting, the developers claimed that a one to one ratio of residential units to parking spots would be sufficient for the building because of the nearby light rail station. On top of the 70 spaces, the developers will be removing a pre-existing driveway at the site and adding two on-street parking spots to the pre-existing six spots.
In addition to constructing the seven-story residential, the developers will also be making improvements to a nearby sewer that runs beneath the property.
According to the developer, a 34-inch combined sewer pipeline was discovered underneath the north side of the property. A portion of the sewer will be relocated under the approved site plans and the developers will also build new manholes allowing access to the sewer.
The order of construction plans will reflect the sewer upgrades. Developers explained to the board that after the demolition of the existing structures, the sewer will be relocated and reconstructed. Afterward, the construction will begin on the residential building.
There were two conditions of approval stipulated by members of the Planning Board.
Commissioner Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski, also the President of the Bayonne City Council, vocalized her support for the project only on the condition that the developers provide sufficient lighting for the internal bedrooms of the development that do not have windows.
The other condition requires a green space element to be added to the rooftop terrace area.
A neighborhood opposed
Debra Piser is a Bayonne native who lives across the street from the proposed development, at 89 Ave E.
According to Piser, many families on the block have lived in the area for generations. Piser said these residents feel no longer at home in their own neighborhood and that the new development will only add to that.
“Residents feel rejected, abandoned and betrayed,” Piser said in regard to the construction of the mid-rise building.
She said most buildings in the area are three stories and the residents apparently want the area to stay the way it’s been their entire lives.
“You’re not letting us feel at home anymore,” Piser said. “We feel threatened.”
Piser pleaded with the developers and the board to halt the application or to lower the height of the development. She asked that if the project proceeded, that at the least the developers could try to maintain the “hometown feel” of the neighborhood that she calls home.
She reiterated that the “hometown feel” of her neighborhood in Bayonne would be destroyed with the construction of the development across the street from her house.
However, her pleas fell on deaf ears. The developers are within the legal requirements to move forward with the application and are including parking with the construction of the development, something that board members noted is not always included among developments in Bayonne.
“It’s profit for them. For us, it’s home,” Piser stated. “This is not for the community, this is for the builder.”
Piser said that the development sounds wonderful for people who will live there but feels it will not benefit the local community outside of the building.
In a petition against the Avenue E development, Piser said she garnered the signatures of Bayonne residents within 200 feet of the surrounding neighborhood who oppose the development and “want things to remain the same.”
Carlos Santana, a fellow Bayonne resident, lives at 4 Veterans Court also spoke against the development during the public hearing.
Santana said, “What’s happening here in Bayonne stinks,” in reference to the recent redevelopment.
“It’s destroying the character of Bayonne,” Santana said. “You can’t find parking for your life.”
According to Santana, parking is so scarce in Bayonne that he longer goes to the gym for fear of losing his spot. Santana said that the new residential development would “put the icing on the cake” in terms of the lack of parking in the city.
“The situation is looking bleaker by the moment,” Santana told the board. “This is not the Bayonne I know.”
In response to the uproar of complaints, attorney Miceli addressed concerns that the seven-story residential would be bad for the community.
“The community desires and hopes are expressed in the application,” Miceli said.
At the end of the public hearing, an objector came forward claiming that his clients believe they have legal ownership of the property.
According to their attorney, Rose and Robert Bealin still pay taxes at 102½ Avenue E, their family home for generations. Because of this, the Bealins claimed they have ownership of the property and thus the developers needed their approval to move forward with the project.
However, the Planning Board were quick to note that the developers are, in fact, the title owners. The board told the Bealins that any claims of ownership would have to be brought up in Superior Court.
Regardless of the potential legal issue, the Planning Board moved to approve the application.
Before the vote, Commissioner Terrence Malloy called the development “attractive and better than what’s there now” at the meeting. According to Malloy, the development will add to the property value of residences in town.
Commissioner Ashe-Nadrowski empathized with residents concerned about parking before voting in favor of the development. She commended the developer for including parking in the construction plans, calling it responsible development.
According to Ashe-Nadrowski, one parking spot per unit is feasible for the development because the target demographic for the units is younger and more likely to use Uber or other methods of transportation.
After a motion to affirm the application, the board voted unanimously in favor of the development.
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.