Several booming neighborhoods in Hudson and Bergen counties might have the scale of their new developments considerably altered if a proposition from two State Senators gains traction in the coming months.
On December 10, Nick Sacco (D) and Brian Stack (D) introduced a bill dubbed the Palisades Cliffs Protection Act. The potential legislation dictates that no development located east of Palisade Avenue can exceed the height of either 10 feet below the surface of that road or the scale of the Palisades cliff, whichever is lower.
The posted bill says its aim is to “protect the unique views enjoyed by residents who live in the historic neighborhoods above those cliffs and preserve the views and topography features of the Palisades.” The potential law would apply to all proposed buildings and structures in the applicable area but does exempt those that have received all required government approvals as of its effective date.
In addition to serving in the State Senate, Sacco and Stack are the mayors of North Bergen and Union City, respectively. Their proposed bill would pertain to all applicable properties in Bergen and Hudson counties regardless of how close a development site falls to the cliffs themselves.
“The Palisades Cliffs Protection Act would permanently prevent development threats against a true natural wonder right in our backyard and would ensure that generations to come will be able to enjoy the natural beauty of the cliffs,” the two senators said in a joint statement.
There are a few neighborhoods and cities that would be impacted heavily by the bill becoming law. Jersey City’s Newport section has several vacant plots along the Hudson River near the Hoboken border that would be subject to the height limits and a 33-story development that emerged just days ago would be disallowed under the proposed regulations.
The northern end of Jersey City’s Downtown would also be impacted, although many properties north of the Holland Tunnel either already have approvals in place or are active construction sites. Palisade Avenue’s southern terminus is near Dickinson High School at the intersection with Newark Avenue, so neighborhoods south of Hamilton Park would mostly be spared under the proposal.
Hoboken would perhaps be most affected by the bill, as several taller proposals in the city’s northwest area have not been finalized. They include two developments from Pegasus Partners that top out at 184 feet and 158 feet and a separate 120-foot tall project at 800 Monroe Street. The Hoboken Yard Redevelopment Plan along NJ Transit’s tracks would also be impacted, as would Stevens Institute of Technology, which had portions of their campus rezoned in 2018 to allow more building height.
A 20-story Hilton along Hoboken’s waterfront is fully approved and could move forward even if the bill becomes law. But several pending projects along the Hudson River, including a 1,200-unit proposal at 615 River Road in Edgewater, would essentially be derailed if the legislation is enacted.
The bill, formally known as S3274, has been referred to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for future discussion. Paul Sarlo, the Assistant Majority Leader in the State Senate and Mayor of Bergen county’s Wood-Ridge, co-sponsored the legislation.