The battle between the township of Weehawken and Hartz Mountain Industries over a 14-story residential high-rise building at Lincoln Harbor will continue after the Planning Board held two public hearings for the application on March 9 and March 11.
For several hours into the night, Hartz Mountain continued to present their plans for the development. Throughout their presentation, Hartz Mountain experts were cross-examined by attorneys for four different objectors to the application.
When the meetings finally came to a close, the town seemed no closer to a conclusion, and hearings on the application will continue later in the month.
Hartz Mountain Industries has dropped its lawsuit against Weehawken Township. The applicant previously sued the township over the denial of its application and the approval of an amended Lincoln Harbor redevelopment ordinance.
However, they have dropped their case and are now moving forward with their plan for a 14-story high rise.
Lawsuits on lawsuits
At the same time, two of the neighboring property owners, Rock Eagle Properties and 1715 Grand Street, 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.
Attorneys from Rock Eagle and 1715 Grand Street cross-examined Hartz Mountain witnesses over zoning and parking as they begin to lay out their objectors case.
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 also claimed the amended ordinance failed to protect historic views of the Hudson River.
In addition, the Lincoln Harbor Yacht Club announced to the board in February that it would be filing suit against Hartz Mountain, with a complaint focused on various parking issues.
At the March meetings, an attorney for the Yacht Club cross-examined Hartz’s experts over 250 parking places that are mandated for the organization upon the reconstruction of the marina.
Weehawken resident Chris von der Lieth spoke against the proposed high-rise at some of the meetings. Lieth brought up issues with the lack of parking and the proposed parking system.
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 hearings continued at the Feb. 18 meeting, as the developer’s experts re-testified about the project. At the meeting, an attorney for Hartz Mountain told the board the new application is virtually identical to the previous submission.
The Planning Board was originally scheduled to hold another public hearing on the Hartz Mountain application on Feb. 25 at 7:30 p.m.
However, the town clerk could not confirm that notice of the Feb. 25 meeting was published in the local daily newspaper. As a result, the board rescheduled the public hearings to two special meetings in March.
Now the developer will call its final witnesses, and the objectors to the application will make their case at its special meetings in March.
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 had previously submitted an 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 that 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 in December 2019.
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.
The next meeting for the Hartz Mountain application will take place at the Weehawken Municipal Building at 400 Park Avenue on March 17 and March 19 at 7:30 p.m.
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Dan Israel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.