Sacco reiterates support for Palisades Cliffs Protection Act

Settlement agreement for a development application in Edgewater is approved

Buildings abut the Palisades in North Bergen. Photo by Robert Walden.
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Buildings abut the Palisades in North Bergen. Photo by Robert Walden.

North Bergen Mayor and State Senator Nicholas Sacco has reiterated his support for the Palisades Cliffs Protection Act. It came at a Board of Commissioners meeting in late May, following the board’s approval of a settlement agreement regarding a development application in Edgewater.

Sacco said that he and State Senator and Union City Mayor Brian Stack are working on legislation to protect the views in all municipalities along the Palisades Cliffs, including Jersey City, Guttenberg, Union City, Weehawken, West New York, North Bergen, Edgewater, Cliffside Park, and Fort Lee. The duo introduced the bill in December, but it is still in committee.

“The threat is not over, regarding the destruction of the Palisades by neighboring communities, mainly Edgewater,” Sacco said. 

Protecting historic views

Prior to the settlement, the development would have exceeded the height of the Palisades, blocking views of the New York City skyline from North Bergen residents. The settlement saw the developer lower the height of the proposed development to below the Palisades cliff line, protecting views of the New York City skyline in North Bergen.

The lowest point of the Palisades in the nearby area of the development in Edgewater is 178 feet high. The development has shrunk to 152 feet, according to Sacco, which is now below the cliff line.

“We can look over, and everyone in this area can see the skyline,” Sacco said.

Sacco said they persuaded the developer Tom Heagney, who was “very reasonable,” to settle without a drawn-out court battle. 

He reiterated his support for the joint legislation he introduced with Senator Stack, arguing that the threat to the Palisades is growing. 

Stack decries ‘outrageous structures’

In March, Stack reiterated his support for curbing the heights of buildings below the Palisades Cliffs.

“If you visit Firefighters Memorial Park on 9th Street and Palisade Avenue, Washington Park, or live in Union City, you know the views of New York City and the Hudson River are amazing,” Stack said. … “Over the years the Commissioners and I have strongly opposed the construction of outrageous structures that have attempted to be built below Union City which would come directly in front of the Palisade Cliffs destroying our views, but more importantly, our quality of life.”

According to Stack, some communities on the waterfront, such as Weehawken, have been cooperative in keeping structures below the cliff line, while others have not.

“Hoboken has allowed the construction of a building on 9th Street to be visible on Congress Street in Jersey City without any regard for the direct impact it would have on the residents of Jersey City,” Stack said.

Stack said that he and the Union City Board of Commissioners will continue to work with officials in the municipalities below the Palisades Cliff to ensure that views or the quality of life is not disrupted. If that does not prove effective, Stack said he will bring the matter to the courts.

Union City has attempted to address the issue by limiting new construction to four stories, with the exception of a few redevelopment areas “where the development would bring other benefits to the residents of Union City.”

Hoboken council disapproves

The proposed legislation has sparked backlash in Hoboken. The city council adopted a last-minute addition to the agenda on Jan. 6 opposing the proposed Palisade Cliffs Protection Act.

According to the council, the act would limit Hoboken’s control over its land use, which could negatively impact all economic, housing, and public safety decisions.

Some city council members pointed out the “irony” of the act’s intent to “preserve the views and topography features of the Palisades” given “the recent practices in the towns of each of the sponsoring Senators/Mayors where portions of the Palisades have literally been gutted entirely to accommodate projects built directly into the same cliffs these bills state they are trying to protect.” One project cited is the Hoboken Heights development in Union City.

Despite the push in recent months by the two Hudson County mayors and state senators, the bill is still in committee awaiting further legislative approvals.

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