Proposed Law Would Limit Building Height Along N.J.’s Hudson Waterfront

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30 Park Lane North Development Jersey City Lefrak
A recently proposed legislation could significantly impact planned developments along the Hudson River waterfront. Photo by Chris Fry/Jersey Digs.

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.

30 Park Lane North Jersey City Render
Under the proposed legislation, LeFrak’s 30 Park Lane North project would be too tall. Image courtesy of LeFrak.

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 Pegasus Project
Hoboken would be heavily impacted by the legislation, including three of Pegasus Partners’ projects. Image courtesy of Pegasus Partners.

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.

615 River Road Edgewater Development Looking West
The large development at 615 River Road in Edgewater would have to be scaled back too. Image courtesy of FXCollaborative.

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.

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18 COMMENTS

  1. This is absurd. Building dense housing near transit is the best way local officials can combat climate change. Furthermore, given the pandemic, we need all of the tax revenue we can get from new developments.

    Hopefully the state senate will reject this NIMBYism

  2. Ahh so the mayors of Union City & North Bergen want to preserve the “unique views enjoyed by residents who live in the historic neighborhoods above those cliffs” and that somehow justifies completely screwing over JC & Hoboken with this extremely broad law with probably a million unintended consequences? I agree with the others this should be laughed out of the Senate. Only in NJ’s corrupt machine politics are these jokers able to serve as both mayor and state senator at the same time.

  3. Humans have been living in the sides of cliffs all over the planet since time immemorial. Pretending they are some sacred feature of Hudson or Bergen County is a bit ridiculous. If you own a house on the east side of Ogden Ave in JC Heights you’re already blocking the view of NYC of someone who lives in a similar size house across the street. The best thing to do in terms of urban development would be to raze all those old rubbishy buildings on Palisade Ave and build much taller buildings with large green space between and then make a wider thoroughfare to accommodate vehicular traffic during rush hour. In fact why not construct a monorail into the sides of the Palisades with tertiary outlets leading to a new waterfront tunnel under the Hudson River. This of course will never happen as it makes too much sense.

  4. This is dumb, and as someone who lives in Weehawken where they already did this to protect views, I can tell you it leads to erratic development. Have you seen the wasted vertical space in this town which can feel inches from Manhattan? The best thing these senators/mayors can do is put aside their personal interests and the interests of NIMBYs and implement ideas from J & XTC above who said it first and best.

  5. Love the line about preserving the natural beauty of the cliffs, when if you actually look at them in UC they’re covered in garbage and homeless tents. I’m sure BS is really concerned about their natural beauty! Also great idea to limit development for ridiculous reasons when state and local budgets are going to be horrific the next few years.

  6. Why would you pass a bill limiting construction in the most booming part of the entire state? the “Gold Coast”? Vote these two out asap!

  7. Stack is the worst populist around, worse than the populist Fulop (who feels compelled to include the cringeworthy phrase “the most vulnerable” in every one of his emails). Also may I remind the crowd here that Fulop got below market labor and renovations from Dixon Properties on his Ogden palace. I wouldn’t be surprised if he stays silent on this issue, though it’ll go nowhere at the state level. Dumb idea and merely an attempted air rights grab.

  8. I agree with this rule proposal. The region is over packed. and god knows we don’t want to repeat the eye sores that are the Doric and Troy Towers (both awful). Couple that with Marine View Plaza near the water – a god awful trifecta.
    Keep it lower – go to Manhattan if you want ugly, dense high rises.
    (the proposed rule would not change my view – thus I have no NIMBY skin in the game).

  9. Housing prices will rise faster without new taller developments. It is corrupt for a mayor (two mayors, at that) to use their state elected positions to favor their cities. We should have state representatives, and city representatives, as separate people. Not one person with both jobs.

  10. Funny because it’s the beauty from those high rises on the water front that offsets all the garbage homes up on those hills, and contributes enormous tax revenues in those cities that these Senators are from. Just build taller condos on the hills, you idiots. Take this to the Supreme Court and then vote these bum Senators out. The towns have the right to dictate their own building rules. F*CK THAT CORRUPT SENATOR STACK!!!!!!

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