Hartz Mountain high-rise public hearing postponed to March 9

The Planning Board couldn’t confirm that official public notice was published

The battle between the township of Weehawken and Hartz Mountain Industries over a 14-story residential high-rise building at Lincoln Harbor continues into March.

The Planning Board was originally scheduled to hold a public hearing on the Hartz Mountain application on Feb. 25 at 7:30 p.m.

However, due to lack of official public notice as mandated under the Open Public Meetings Act, the meeting was adjourned shorty after it began. New Jersey regulations require a 48-hour notice for all public meetings.

According to the Planning Board, the town clerk could not confirm that notice of the Feb. 25 meeting was published in the Jersey Journal. As a result, the board rescheduled the public hearings to two special meetings in March.

Mayor Richard Turner told The Hudson Reporter that the notice is legally required and that the meeting had to be rescheduled because of the discrepancy.

The next meeting will be held at Town Hall at 400 Park Ave. in the second floor council chambers at 7 p.m. on March 9th and 11th.

In addition, the Lincoln Harbor Yacht Club announced to the board that it would be filing suit against Hartz Mountain, with the complaint focused on various parking issues.

40 years in the making

Hartz Mountain has been developing the 50-acre Lincoln Harbor project at the south Weehawken waterfront since the 1980s.

The developer previously submitted its application for an 18-story building at the Atir site.

Over the course of six months and nine planning board hearings, residents from Weehawken, Union City, and Hoboken raised multiple objections to Hartz’s development proposal over parking, flooding, and the loss of historic views.

The board rejected the Hartz Mountain application on Oct. 29, 2019.

Mayor Richard Turner, also a member of the planning board, attempted to resolve the development controversy by having the township council pass an amended redevelopment ordinance later in December.

This ordinance would allow Hartz to build two 160-foot towers, a few stories shorter than the previous proposal, at Weehawken Cove, but also require the developer to provide hundreds of public parking spots at Lincoln Harbor.

The new ordinance would require that more than 200 parking spaces be built in Lincoln Harbor under any redevelopment plan.

The new rules would require 70 additional parking spaces for Weehawken residents who do not live or work in the development. Turner argued this will allow residents to find parking if they want to enjoy the waterfront and other nearby amenities.

Lawsuits upon lawsuits

Hartz Mountain Industries is suing the township over the denial of its application and the approval of an amended Lincoln Harbor redevelopment ordinance.

At the same time, two of the neighboring property owners, Rock Eagle Properties and 1715 Grand Street also filed suits challenging the ordinance. Their attorneys argued that the ordinance constituted “spot zoning” designed specifically to benefit Hartz’s application to build on the Atir site.

Another suit, filed by the Fund for a Better Waterfront, cited the failure of the township to conduct necessary studies related to traffic, flood control, and other planning elements regarding the Hartz Mountain application. The suit highlighted the failure of the amended ordinance to protect historic views of the Hudson River.

Meanwhile, Hartz has resubmitted a development application for the high-rise multi-family development that first went before the Planning Board on Feb. 4.

The public hearing continued at the Feb. 18 meeting, as the developer’s experts re-testified about the project. At the meeting, an attorney for Hartz Mountain testified to the board that the application is virtually identical to the previous submission.

Now the developer will call its final witnesses as the objectors to the application will make their case at its special meetings in March.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Dan Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.