A new lawsuit is challenging the City of Hoboken’s approval of the Western Edge Redevelopment back in April, claiming the new plan violates state and city affordable housing requirements.
By Corey McDonald/Hudson County View
The suit, filed in Hudson County Superior Court on June 1st, by the Fair Share Housing Center, Inc.
In the court filing, they describe themselves as “a non-profit organization … dedicated to the development of affordable housing in New Jersey.”
They alleged that the city willfully pushed ahead with amendments to the development, despite the fact that these amendments would not provide the required 10 percent of affordable housing for the project.
“The recent changes approved to the redevelopment plan trade away affordable housing for a pool. That violates New Jersey law,” said Anthony Campisi, a spokesman for the group.
” … We’re asking the Hudson County Superior Court to strike down the latest changes to the plan. Hoboken, a city where nearly 30 percent of residents spend unsustainable amounts of money on housing, shouldn’t be trading affordable housing for public pools: particularly in the midst of a pandemic that has sparked a deep recession.”
The lawsuit names the city, the city’s planning board, and the developer – Just Block 112, LLC – as defendants.
Recent amendments to the Western Edge Redevelopment plan includes a 15- to 20-story hotel and a 13- to 18-story residential building.
The project had been in the works since 2015, but the recent additions prompted some council members at the time to raise concerns.
Councilman-at-Large Jim Doyle, the councilâ€™s designee on the planning board, expressed concern at the April 15th council meeting that the 10 percent affordable housing component could be compromised in the future.
â€œThis consistency review took up a good portion of two full planning board meetings and the issue that was very troubling â€¦ Our planner said public benefits donâ€™t have to be limited to affordable housing,” as HCV first reported.
Meanwhile, 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher stated that the city was â€œupsizing a planâ€ and the City was â€œputting out a plan while no one is watching,” the lawsuit highlights.
The amendments essentially allow for the developer to build an additional 150 residential units, and a large hotel, “while requiring no affordable housing set-aside in the 150 additional units,” the complaint alleges.
Additionally, the court filing claims the “city’s planning boardâ€™s professionals did not analyze
whether allowing for 150 additional residential units and a five-story taller, larger hotel and no affordable housing set-aside on the additional units was consistent with the Master Plan.”
Several council members voted in favor of tabling the ordinance approving the amendments at the time: Fisher’s motion to table was supported by Council members Vanessa Falco, Mike DeFusco and Mike Russo.
However the measure failed 5-4, with Council members Doyle, Jabbour, Cohen and Ramos voting no.
Ultimately, the first reading of the ordinance was approved 7-2, with Fisher and Doyle voting no.
The project appeared to initially draw the ire of Mayor Steven Fulop, and to a lesser extent state Senator Brian Stack (D-33, whose legislative district includes Hoboken), but they both decided against a public battle over the large-scale development.
Follow Corey McDonald on Twitter @cwmcdonald_