Heading to Court, White Eagle Hall Seeks to Block Development

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202 Merseles Street Scott Mahaffey Architects
202 Merseles Street, Jersey City. Rendering via Scott Mahaffey Architects.

A residential project from the Weingarten Group is the subject of a new lawsuit, as one of Jersey City’s prominent concert venues is looking to challenge the approvals in court.

Last October, the city’s Planning Board gave the green light to a development at 202 Merseles Street, currently home to a vacant garage and an industrial structure. The five-story project consists of 16 residential rental units plus 16 parking spaces in a ground-floor garage.

The property, which spans several lots, is adjacent and directly behind White Eagle Hall, and has frontage along both Merseles and 4th Street. The Planning Board granted three variances while approving the project; one for rear yard setbacks (zero feet where 15 feet are required), one for rooftop setbacks, and one for a narrower driveway width than is allowed under current zoning.

202 Merseles Street Scott Mahaffey Architects 2
202 Merseles Street, Jersey City. Rendering via Scott Mahaffey Architects.

Late last month, White Eagle Hall LLC filed a lawsuit against Jersey City’s Planning Board, Weingarten Group, and Falesto Realty Corp, the property’s owner. The case claims the board signing off on the project was “based in part upon an erroneous interpretation of the Jersey City Land Development Ordinance” and asks the court to void the approvals that were granted.

Lawyers for White Eagle Hall say that during the meeting where the application was heard, the Planning Board restricted their cross-examination of expert witnesses who were called to testify by Weingarten and limited the testimony of expert witnesses they called themselves. They also claim the board failed to give them the opportunity to cross-examine the city’s Principal Planner from the Division of Planning, who they claim provided unsworn testimony.

White Eagle Hall also says the notice of hearing was “misleading and failed to meet the legal requirements for such notice” in their case and additionally claims that the building’s construction would encroach on the public right of way along 4th Street.

Despite the case being filed, White Eagle Hall CEO Ben LoPiccolo tells Jersey Digs that all parties in the lawsuit are currently negotiating a settlement agreement. While it’s unclear how long that process may take and what changes may be made to the project to accommodate a deal, Weingarten’s website says that the company still plans to break ground on the project in Fall 2018.

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