Freeholder board’s hearing of Hoboken’s Monarch project postponed

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The Hudson County Board of Chosen Freeholders postponed their hearing of Hoboken’s controversial Monarch project until 6 p.m. on October 28 after two board members – including Hoboken’s Anthony Romano – were asked to recuse themselves from the vote, while Freeholder Jeff Dublin (D-3) had to leave early and Freeholder Al Cifelli (D-9) was only available via telephone.

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As the only media outlet on hand for the regularly scheduled freeholder meeting, Hudson County View obtained exclusive footage of the serious discord that existed between the board members and their legal counsel over the Monarch project.

At the end of the day, Freeholder Anthony Romano – whose district includes Hoboken – and Freeholder Doreen DiDomenico – whose district includes Bayonne – were asked to recuse themselves from the vote due to their past involvement with the Hudson County Planning Board.

Since Dublin had to leave early due to a family emergency and Freeholder Al Cifelli was only available via telephone, due to a recent surgery, the board quickly realized they would not have a quorum on Tuesday.

Additionally, Freeholder Thomas Liggio (D-8, North Bergen) was not present for the meeting.

For those unfamiliar with the project, the city of Hoboken filed a lawsuit against Shipyard Associates – the Monarch developers – back in 2012 to enforce a developer’s agreement all the way back from 1997.

The agreement assured the city, as well as the Hoboken Planning Board, that the Monarch residential building would be a mixed-use project that would include three tennis courts and 1,000 residential units.

Despite the then-15 year old agreement firmly in place, Shipyard Associates suddenly abandoned the plan to build tennis courts in favor of two, 11-story residential buildings.

Furthermore, the city is appealing to the appellate court a decision that would allow the state Department of Environmental Protection to approve a building permit for the Monarch project, as well as a Superior Court decision regarding the Hoboken planning board – which rejected Shipyard’s application to amend a prior development agreement until all legal matters are resolved.

“Hoboken’s flood protection ordinance and our opposition to this project are in line with Governor Christie’s veto of state legislation that would have allowed new construction on existing piers in the Hudson River,” said Mayor Dawn Zimmer in a statement sent to Hudson County View, regarding a federal lawsuit filed by Shipyard challenging the city’s flood hazard protection ordinance.

“We will continue to vigorously defend the City’s interests and hold developers accountable for their promises.”