A Jersey City resident and two polish groups are suing to halt the Exchange Place Redevelopment Plan that was approved by the planning board on May 10th after they had already voted it down on April 26th.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
The 16-page suit, filed in Hudson County Superior Court on Friday, names the Exchange Place Alliance District Management Corporation and the planning board as plaintiffs, alleging that the hearing on May 10th did not follow the proper protocols.
“The Board stated that it was limiting its decision to the information on the record at the April 26 hearing and did not accept public comment for this stated reason. However, the Board considered information that was outside the record in its decision on May 10,” the suit says.
“The May 10 board planners’ comments were outside the record of the April 26 hearing. The Board considered the May 10 board planners’ comments in making its decision on
reconsideration, which was outside the record of the April 26 hearing.”
Furthermore, the lawsuit contends that the May 10th hearing did not allow public comment, and also allowed an April 29th reconsideration letter from the EPA that said they met with the Committee for the Conservation of the Katyn Monument & Historic Objects to be a part of the record.
They also claim that the same letter said the EPA met with the Historic Paulus Hook Association when they actually did not.
When the project was rejected, supporters of the Katyn Monument indicated the redevelopment would obstruct the statue, while planning board commissioners expressed concerns with the public being left out of the process.
“When we hear things that the client did not meet with the public, or that the client – that the public’s concerns were not addressed appropriately, we take that very seriously and obviously you know that we don’t really like that much,” Vice Chair Dr. Orlando Gonzalez said at the time.
As a result, Jeanne Daly, the Police American Strategic Initiative, Inc., and the Polish American Strategic Initiative Educational Organization, Inc. are alleging that the plaintiffs engaged in arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable conduct, as well as violating the Open Public Meetings Act.
Specifically, they claim that the EPA did not provide adequate notice to property owners with 200 feet of the development, nor did they properly notice the meeting under state rules – which require at least 48 hours notice in a daily publication.
The defendants are therefore seeking a judgement declaring the May 10th meeting violated OPMA, reversing and voiding the planning board’s recommendation, remanding the application back to the board, also awarding any relief deemed just and equitable by the court.
Stuart L. Lieberman and Zoe N. Ferguson, of the Princeton-based law firm Lierberman Blecher & Sinkevich, P.C., are representing the defendants in this case.
City officials did not return inquiries seeking comment, though Exchange Place Alliance Executive Director Elizabeth Cain said the court filing “is without merit.”
“This lawsuit is without merit and flies in the face of community involvement and appropriate Planning Board action,” she said in a statement.
“It’s a shame that despite all the actions we’ve taken to protect the statue and improve the neighborhood a few naysayers want to stop a fantastic project for the community.”
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with a comment from Exchange Place Alliance Executive Director Elizabeth Cain.