A Hudson County judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought against the City of Hoboken by New York Waterway arguing that they had all the necessary permits to use Union Dry Dock “for maritime industrial purposes.”
“The relief being sought here is extraordinary, unnecessary, and inappropriate. It’s extraordinary because it asks this court to brush aside statutory procedure for land use administration and make an unprecedented ruling that local zoning is preempted by waterfront development recognitions,” stated Chris Miller, an attorney representing Hoboken in the matter.
“It’s unnecessary because Hoboken’s regulations do not prohibit the specific work items that are authorized a permit or conflict with relevant regulations. And it’s inappropriate because it calls for the court to interpose at an early stage before the planning board is given its due opportunity under land use law.”
The hearing, which lasted about an hour-and-a-half, took place in front of Judge Jeffrey Jablonski, with Mayor Ravi Bhalla and many NY Waterway officials looking on.
Back in December, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a permit to allow NY Waterway to use Union Dry Dock as a ferry maintenance and refueling station, though the city issued a stop work order permit two months later.
According to Anthony Bocchi, an attorney representing NY Waterway in the matter, the latter was an example of the city playing politics and doing whatever they could to impede the transportation company’s progress.
“We start to conduct the work. What happens? The mayor shows up himself at the site and posts a stop work order notice on the site and we get a very nebulous letter that says ‘you have changed circumstances’ with respect to the work that you were doing,” he explained.
” … That’s another instance of we’re told we can do something, we do something, and then thereafter, that is revoked and the mayor himself posts a stop work order and we don’t get any explanation. That is in tandem with the electrical permit. That is in tandem with the public statements that have already been made, that is in tandem with the police showing up like the gestapo watching the site, saying you can’t do these things.”
At the end of the day, Jablonski felt that NY Waterway had failed to prove they had sustained any irreparable harm since they could continue to do business and obtain permits with Hoboken on an as needed basis.
“I do not find that the police and public statements made on the behalf of Hoboken …[shows] the statutory and administrative process that Hoboken is required to have will not be afforded to these applicants,” Jablonski ruled before dismissing the case.
Immediately after the hearing, NY Waterway Arthur Imperator said that “the court has spoken and we will comply.” He declined to comment further.
Additionally, Bhalla predictably applauded the court’s “sound decision” and called on NY Waterway CEO Arther Imperatore to apologize to the Hoboken Police Department for Bocchi’s characterization of them.
“As we’ve said all along, New York Waterway manufactured the claim of a ‘regional transportation crisis’ without Union Dry Dock and I’m thankful the Hudson County Superior Court characterized the claim as ‘unsubstantiated.’ Hoboken remains committed to acquiring Union Dry Dock for public, open space, and I’m thankful this decision puts us one step closer to making this a reality,” Bhalla said in a statement.
“ … I strongly condemn the sickening comparison between Nazis and the Hoboken Police Department. This inflammatory language has no place in a court of law or anywhere else in society, and Mr. Imperatore owes the Hoboken Police Department and our City an apology.”
Hoboken Police Superior Officers Association President Lt. John Petrosino called the comparison “offensive and insulting” and also demanded an apology.
Furthermore, 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher said “every victory matters when it relates to protecting our waterfront and this one gives us a little more time to find a better alternative. Great outcome.”
A spokesman for NY Waterway did not immediately return an email seeking further comment.