Eminent domain for Union Dry Dock site is authorized….again

The Hoboken City Council also introduced measures for lanternfly control and World Cup bar hours

Union Dry Dock is the last vestige of the city's industrial past on the waterfront

The Hoboken City Council has once again authorized the city to begin eminent domain procedures for the Union Dry Dock site, and introduced measures to control lantern flies and regulate bar hours for the upcoming 2022 World Cup.

The council unanimously adopted an ordinance on October 19 that will allow Hoboken to acquire the Union Dry Dock site either by negotiations or by condemning it via eminent domain. The ordinance also appraises the property for $13,360,000.

Condemnation by the city could put in doubt an agreement that was reached after a years’ long feud between New York Waterway, which currently owns the site and wants to create a ferry home port for maintenance and fueling, and the city, which is opposed to their plans and wants the former shipyard to become public open space.

After years of legal disputes and eminent domain threats, the two parties reached an agreement to end it. The agreement stipulated that Hoboken would buy the property for $18.5 million, and temporarily lease it to NY Waterway until the latter’s facility in Weehawken was completed.

But plans to expand NY Waterway’s Weehawken facility reached a snag after residents there and eventually elected officials came out against expanding and operating there after plans for the facility were leaked, with residents voicing concerns over the potential impact on the environment and the local community.

Mayor Ravi Bhalla said earlier this month before the ordinance’s introduction that he asked the council for authorization “so Hoboken can have this critical waterfront property in our possession in the coming months.”

He also said at the time that his administration will continue “to strongly support the state and New York Waterway in every possible way to expand their ferry operations, given the critical importance of this mass transit option to our residents.”

Assistant Business Administrator Caleb Stratton explained at the meeting that the ordinance authorizes the city to make an offer “and to begin bonafide negotiations for acquisition, based on the existing appraisal.”

The day after the vote, Bhalla thanked the City Council for authorizing the condemnation “so we can take the final steps necessary to officially acquire the Union Dry Dock site from New York Waterway.”

“Hoboken residents deserve nothing less than an open, continuous waterfront park and I look forward to making that a reality, once and for all,” he said in a statement.

Lanternflies and soccer booze

The council unanimously introduced an ordinance that would control lantern flies, the invasive insect that attacks trees, flowers and other kinds of vegetation and has become a nuisance in New Jersey.

The ordinance specifically states that it would forbid anyone from having lantern flies on any property in the city, as well as forbidding selling any plants, products or materials that could harbor the bug.

It also says that the property owner will be responsible for controlling or eliminating lantern flies during any stage of their life on the property and adjacent sidewalks. Control procedures could be done by applying pesticide or removing Ailanthus altissima trees, and can be done either by themselves or a hired contractor.

Another ordinance that was introduced 8-0-1 (with Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher abstaining) would allow bars and restaurants that have alcohol licenses to begin serving alcohol at 8 a.m. on Sundays during the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, which is set to run from Nov. 20 to Dec. 18.

For updates on this and other stories, check hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Mark Koosau can be reached at mkoosau@hudsonreporter.com or his Twitter @snivyTsutarja.