Developers Break Off Negotiations with Friends of Weehawken Waterfront
Weehawken, NJ--Friends of the Weehawken Waterfront are organizing a rally to protest the resumption of Planning Board hearings on the proposed Port Imperial South project, one of the largest waterfront developments along the Hudson River. Real estate developer Roseland Properties broke off talks ten days ago with the Friends of the Weehawken Waterfront after six weeks of settlement negotiations to resolve their year-long legal battle. The rally is planned for 6:30 PM Wednesday evening, May 31 at Weehawken Town Hall. The Planning Board hearing will follow at 7:00 PM.
After six months of hearings and 50 hours of expert testimony, the Planning Board proceedings halted at the end of March 2000 due to revelations of a conflict of interest by Chairman of the Weehawken Planning Board, Mark Gould.
Weehawken Planning Board attorney Thomas Dunn ruled that Gould could not chair these hearings because he owns three properties within 200 feet of the proposed development, which could financially benefit from approval of the application.
When the hearing resumes this Wednesday evening, attorney James V. Segreto, representing the Friends of Weehawken Waterfront, will argue that the entire proceedings must be seen as tainted under law, and thus must restart from the beginning. Glenn Kienz, attorney for the developer, has argued that the town should seek a court judgment and proceed with the existing hearings.
The Port Imperial South project includes 3.9 million square feet of commercial and residential development, covering more than 100 acres of land at the foot of the Palisades, directly across the Hudson River from midtown Manhattan. The development would include 1,643 residential units, a massive commercial center and parking for over 5,000 cars. Seven of the buildings are 10 to 12 stories tall.
In the negotiations, Friends of the Weehawken Waterfront pushed for a development plan that included a continuous, public waterfront park; low-rise development and a thoughtfully-designed urban environment. New York architect and planner, Craig Whitaker, has assisted the Friends in developing this plan. Mr. Whitaker is known internationally for his innovative waterfront development planning and design.
The 1999 Weehawken Planning Board approval on Phase I of the waterfront application was brought before the Superior Court of New Jersey in Hudson County by Friends of the Weehawken Waterfront who alleged numerous violations of legal process. The case is currently awaiting judgement. Mr. Segreto, the Friend's attorney, has also been cross examining witnesses before the Planning Board since October, 1999, regarding testimony on subsequent phases of the application. Without resolution of these matters, the development could be tied up in such legal battles for years.