Judge voids amendments to Morris Canal Manor project, sends it back to Jersey City Planning Board


A Hudson County judge voided amendments to the Morris Canal Manor project yesterday, remanding it back to the Jersey City Planning Board for another hearing.

Inset photo of Hudson County Superior Court Judge Anthony D’Elia. Background photo via Zoom, a rendering of the Morris Canal Manor project in Jersey City.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

Hudson County Superior Court Judge Anthony D’Elia ruled that the 17-story, 416-unit mixed-use project because there is no evidence on the record as to why a “massive building” needs to be constructed in a neighborhood that has one- or two-family homes.

The lawsuit was filed by the Morris Canal Community Development Corporation against the city and the planning board in February after the city council approved a measure to move the project forward in December, following recommendations from the planning board made in October.

“We are pleased by the court’s decision invalidating the amendments to the Morris Canal Redevelopment Plan,” began Bill Matsikoudis, a founding partner for the law firm Matsikoudis & Fanciullo who represented the MCCDC in this matter.

“There was no evidence presented to the Planning Board or City Council to justify a massive 17-story building with more than 400 ‘luxury’ residential units in a neighborhood of one- and two-family homes based upon a ‘giveback’ of only 5% of workforce housing for only thirty years and a so-called recreation center that will be nothing more than a ‘white box’ with a basketball court, especially considering that the property was supposed be part of Berry Lane park.”

They argued that the project was only possible through “illicit spot zoning” and that the Morris Canal Redevelopment Plan did not allow for any residential structures within an industrial zone.

Despite the outcome slowing down the project’s trajectory, city spokeswoman Kimberly Wallace-Scalcione characterized it as “a win for Jersey City.”

“This is a win for Jersey City as the judge threw out all of Morris Canal’s baseless claims, proving the City did give proper notice to the community and no spot zoning ever took place,” she said in an email.

“The Planning Board will have to make the one minor adjustment as per the judge, which is simply to amend the language to further articulate how the Redevelopment Plan is consistent with the Master Plan. We look forward to moving ahead with this project and creating a new recreation center for Jersey City youth.”

MCCDC President June Jones, also a council-at-large candidate, also applauded D’Elia’s ruling.

“Justice was done, we are glad our voice was heard, and this shows the community can’t be ignored. This is an opportunity to have real dialogue and input from the community, instead of dictating to us what’s best for us.”

In a separate matter, a different Hudson County Superior Court judge struck down Jersey City’s inclusionary zoning ordinance on Thursday.

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