A court case has been initiated to stop a four-story residential project from rising on property near the Hudson River, although it is somewhat unclear who exactly is behind the legal action.
A development scheme has been in the works since 2019 for a 0.31-acre parcel at 9001 River Road. Situated just a few feet from the Edgewater border and the Porto by Antonio restaurant, it is currently home to a parking lot and two buildings, one of which has been used over the years as a liquor store.
The final version of the project is designed by North Bergen-based Kaltis Architecture and is set to rise six stories and just over 82 feet. The development will include two levels of parking followed by four floors consisting of 18 one-bedroom units.
The property is located within an R-1 Residential Townhouse Zone, which permits one- and two-family houses with a townhouse overlay. The developer required several variances as a result, including exceptions related to use, height, and floor area ratio.
North Bergen’s zoning board approved the project during their October 13 meeting last year and a lawsuit challenging the board’s green light was filed February 17 in Hudson County court. Filed by a company named Riverside Development Studies LLC, the case’s defendants are North Bergen’s zoning board and 9001 River Road LLC, the Edgewater-based company that owns the parcel.
The lawsuit cites a variety of alleged issues with the board’s approval of the application including the developer apparently “failing to provide detailed lighting, sewer, and storm detention designs.” The property owner also allegedly failed to present interlocal agreements related to stormwater and sewer services required under New Jersey’s Municipal Land Use Law.
The case additionally claims that the applicant presented testimony from an architect, traffic engineers, and planners that “failed to address the reasonableness and practicality of the variance and design exceptions [they] requested.” The lawsuit says North Bergen “failed to act in accordance with its Master Plan” and zoning codes and describes the development’s approval as “discriminatory, arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable.”
In terms of North Bergen’s role, the complaint claims that the zoning board “failed and refused to open the [October 13] meeting to members of the public.” The case claims that snub violates the state’s Open Public Meetings Act and alleges that the board’s later resolution of approval “was not adopted within the time prescribed” under state law.
The case is looking to have the project’s approvals declared null and void, but the interests behind Riverside Development Studies are somewhat a mystery. According to public records, the company was formed in Paramus just weeks ago on January 22 and paperwork connected to the lawsuit forwards all the company’s correspondence to the Paramus-based law firm of Bittiger, Elias & Triolo.
An email placed to the North Bergen mayor’s office regarding the lawsuit has not been answered and a trial date has not been set.