The amended “Palisade Cliffs Protection Act,” introduced by state Senators Nick Sacco (D-32) and Brian Stack (D-33), would significantly limit development east of the Palisades in Hudson and Bergen Counties.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“This bill would limit the height of any development below the cliffs east of Palisade Avenue in Hudson and Bergen counties. Under the bill, no development, inclusive of any mechanical structures on top, in that area could exceed 10 feet below the surface of that road or the Palisades cliff height, whichever is lower,” the bill statement says.
“This bill would protect the unique views enjoyed by residents who live in the historic neighborhoods above those cliffs, and preserve the views and topography features of the Palisades.”
Developments that have received approvals prior to the date the bill is potentially enacted would still to able to build.
Sacco and Stack, the two main North Hudson power brokers based out of North Bergen and Union City, respectively – where they also serve as mayors – rarely sponsor legislation together, but are clearly committed to this cause.
“The Palisades Cliffs Protection Act would permanently prevent development threats against a true natural wonder right in our backyard and would ensure that generations to come will be able to enjoy the natural beauty of the cliffs,” the two senators said in a joint statement.
“We believe that protecting this precious natural resource is of paramount importance and that this bill should be supported by environmentalists, those interested in historic preservation and anyone who shares our commitment to protecting this unique natural feature of Hudson and Bergen counties.”
They introduced an earlier version of this bill back on June 11th, which would have limited construction that could exceed 20 feet below the surface of that road. That bill was withdrawn on December 10th, the same day the updated version was presented.
The new version of the legislations is now also co-sponsored by state Senator Paul Sarlo (D-36), the deputy majority leader of the state Senate. He could not be reached at his office on Wednesday.
If signed into law, the proposal would significantly impact developments in Hoboken, Pegasus Partners LLC Managing Partner Hany Ahmed told HCV.
“I think it’s very unfortunate it’s short sighted to take the most valuable property between Fort Lee and Jersey City really just hurts the whole state’s economy,” he said.
” … To thwart that development to protect the views of a very select few doesn’t make sense: imagine trying to do this in New York City. It would be devastating, it would kill a lot of new businesses before they start, as well as stunting environmentally friendly housing stock and affordable housing.”
Pegasus is currently working on the Western Edge Redevelopment Plan, which initially drew a negative reaction from Stack and Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop in April (more so Fulop than Stack), but neither publicly expressed concerns once the revamped project was approved in July.
Furthermore, Hoboken is the only municipality that has all of its properties below the cliffs, so projects such as the Hilton Hotel and the LCOR-developed rail yard redevelopment plan would also not be possible, Ahmed added.
Despite those concerns, he said that he remains confident that the elected officials involved will work through this situation.
According to a copy of the state legislature’s agenda, it does not have an upcoming committee vote scheduled.
In a statement, Hoboken 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher came out against the legislation, exclaiming that Stack and Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla need to do better for Hoboken and the 33rd Legislative District.
“Our state senator, who also happens to be Union City mayor, introduced a state law that screws Hoboken just to protect Union City views? And Hoboken Mayor Bhalla has no comment?,” she questioned.
“This law, if passed, would devastate Hoboken and our ability to lower taxes and to have a world class transit hub, more affordable housing, a community center, more open space and other needed city services. Senator/Mayor Stack needs to withdraw this bill and Mayor Bhalla needs to demand that he do so.”
The Hoboken mayor’s office declined to comment on the bill.