Legal action has officially been taken over a 42-story development that has been planned in the Journal Square neighborhood, as the company behind the project claims that Jersey City has unfairly denied them permits that would let them begin construction at the site.
The development in question would rise on the east side of Summit Avenue between Sip and Magnolia Avenues just a block from the area’s PATH station. Designed by Centra Ruddy Architecture, the high-rise building is set to contain 740 rental units, 15,000 square feet of ground floor retail, and 200 parking spaces.
The site plan as currently designed completely conforms to existing zoning regulations under the Journal Square 2060 Redevelopment Plan. But according to the property owners, who are legally designated as 500 Summit Avenue Mazal LLC and a subsidiary of HAP Investments, Jersey City officials have yet to hold a planning board hearing on their application despite them submitting it almost a year ago.
In a lawsuit filed in Hudson County court on September 25, the company says they handed over all the documentation that was required of them to Jersey City’s Division of Planning on November 8, 2017. After a 45-day period of review expired in December last year, HAP claims they met in February with planning officials who had a few questions about the project’s height, but nonetheless stated to them that the application would be deemed complete.
However, HAP says in their complaint that no determination of completeness has been made. The lawsuit claims that on May 25, the city council recognized a notice of default HAP’s lawyers sent them that documented the city not deciding the completeness of HAP’s application.
Following that acknowledgment, HAP says in their case that they again submitted four sets of plans for the 500 Summit Avenue project to the planning department on August 13 of this year, only to be told by Planning Director Tanya Marione that she did not have the authority to approve the plans as submitted. She also told HAP’s counsel that the city believed the application was never deemed complete.
The application for 500 Summit Avenue has indeed not yet been heard by Jersey City’s planning board, which HAP’s lawyers claim violates state laws on the matter. “The planning board of the City of Jersey City was required to grant or deny the application within 95 days of December 23, 2017, or no later than March 28, 2018,” the complaint says. “That simply did not occur, despite [our] best efforts to engage the city in a timely review.”
Named as defendants in the lawsuit are the city council and several other officials, including current head of Housing, Economic Development and Commerce Annisia Cialone, Director of City Planning Tanya Marione, Construction Code Official Raymond Meyer, Planning Board Chairman Christopher Langston, and Planning Board Secretary Matthew Ward.
HAP seeks a ruling for the “issuance of any and all construction permits to complete its development project.” A spokesperson for the city declined to speak on the matter, citing their policy to not comment on ongoing litigation.