Jersey City Council discusses budget update, Tidewater Basin Redevelopment Plan at caucus


The Jersey City Council discussed the city’s annual budget, the Tidewater Basin Redevelopment Plan, and the New Jersey Turnpike Authority’s $4.7 billion widening project at today’s caucus.

By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View

“What are we waiting on for the budget?,” Council President Joyce Watterman asked.

Business Administrator John Metro said the state is reviewing and amending it, adding that discussions will likely be concluded before it is approved by council in September.

As a result, the city council is also set to authorize a $357 million emergency appropriation to keep the city running.

Supervising Planner Mallory Clark-Sokolov explained the ordinance amending the Tidewater Basin Redevelopment Plan to include more affordable housing.

They will do so by allowing three-unit townhouses between the high rises of Liberty Harbor North and the Historic Paulus Hook zone. Many locals criticized the plan before it was approved by the planning board.

“This creates the opportunity for mid-rise multi-family development that would still comply with the density standard,” she said.

These development projects would be subject to the Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance (IZO), which seeks to increase affordable housing in the city in projects that meet a 15-unit minimum.

Clark-Sokolov explained the change in the redevelopment plan would allow the 177 Grand St. project of a two skyscraper complex to be built.

“The tower setbacks here, have been there any changes since the June Planning Board?,” Ward E Councilman James Solomon asked.

“There have not,” Clark-Sokolov said.

“The city needs more affordable housing generally,” project Planner Edward Kolling said regarding the plan.

He explained the Grant Street project and noted affordable housing is especially needed in downtown and the Journal Square neighborhoods.

“There’s been so much redevelopment over the last several decades the opportunity for affordable housing is lesser,” Kolling added.

He said an amendment to the redevelopment plan would provide 15 percent affordable housing in the 177 Grand St. project to make it consistent with the IZO. Additionally, 400 housing units would be built in the complex, with 60 being affordable housing.

“We’re trying to hit all those markers,” Kolling said.

“There’s been a back and forth between the developer and community groups, and I just wanted to see where things stood,” Solomon said.

He wanted to amend the plan to ensure it meets the historic buffer district, which is supposed to be a middle ground between skyscrapers and smaller homes.

“Have any changes to that effect been put in place in the amendment?,” Solomon asked.

“No,” Kolling said.

“There’s been some issues around a 10 feet buffer between the towers opposed to a 3 ft buffer. None of those buffers have changed?,” Solomon asked.

“The higher rise portion is actually a minimum of 50 feet away,” Kolling said.

Solomon also asked if there was a commitment on trash removal, to which Kolling said they hadn’t gotten that fair yet. The downtown councilman also said that the corner in question i very congested.

“The developer is very aware of that. We’ve had discussions with staff at city planning,” Kolling said.

He said there would be a one-way ramp in on Marin Boulevard to minimize traffic on Grand Street.

“The idea would be not to impact that with traffic backing up getting in,” Kolling said.

“We understand this is the first IZO project to move forward,” Solomon said in favor of the project. However, he wanted details on the historic buffer zone, the placement of the towers, trash plan, vehicles, and parking finalized.

“I’d love to get those details settled before second reading. We want the affordable housing. This attention to detail matters,” Solomon added.

“I understand and will take that into account,” Kolling added.

The Jersey City Council is also set to vote on a resolution opposing the expansion of the New Jersey Turnpike leading to the Holland Tunnel in favor of biking and public transportation, virtually identical to what the Hoboken council did last week.

“I think all the council is included in that,” Watterman noted, pointing out that all nine electeds are on board as sponsors now.

This was also Councilwoman-at-Large Amy DeGise’s first appearance on the dais since her July 19th hit-and-run, which has garnered international media attention.

She did not provide any questions or commentary on agenda items at left right after the meeting adjourned a little after two hours.

While there is no public portion during caucus meetings, 81 people have signed up to speak at Wednesday’s meeting at 6 p.m. as of this writing.

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