Can the waterfront walkway be a “street”?

(February 24, 2012)
The Hoboken Zoning Ordinance defines a “development block” as the area in a planned unit development (PUD) bounded by streets. For each PUD, the zoning requires the street system be extended throughout, thus creating a street grid and a new set of development blocks. The Hoboken Zoning has thus created a dilemma for the developers of the Monarch project: how do you create a development block on a pier? The Shipyard Associates’ answer: we’ll call the public walkway bounding the Monarch towers a “street.”

This resulted in considerable confusion at the Hudson County Planning Board hearing as the Commissioners and their engineering consultant repeatedly asked of the developer why the walkway was termed a street. The County Board voted the project down at their February 22 hearing.

This week, Hoboken’s planner, Eileen Banyra of EFB Associates, submitted her report to the Hoboken Planning Board. This document has raised myriad issues for the Monarch, including the “street” problem. As a result, the developers were granted a postponement of their Hoboken Planning Board Hearing from March 6 to April 3.

Banyra’s report states that the developer needs to demonstrate compliance with various provisions of the Hoboken Zoning Ordinance or request variances. The report suggests that variances may be required for the following: rooftop design & landscaping, rear wall setbacks, building coverage, maintenance of view corridors and open area for each block.

“Applicant should indicate whether NJDEP permit recognized that walkway was to also serve as the ‘street system’ for the high-rise residential project,” the report states. And if not, does this require a permit change. The report also points out that the “street”/walkway did not comply with the State of New Jersey’s RSIS (Residential Site Improvement Standards).

The developers have contended that the landscaping plan surrounding the towers is intentionally minimal in order to showcase the design of the building. Ms. Banyra takes issue with that, stating that they have failed to provide proper landscaping.

Promenade at Pier A Park

The beautifully landscaped Hudson River Waterfront Walkway at Hoboken's south waterfront.

The planner also says that the project’s points of intersection with both Sinatra Drive and 15th Street are excessive in width, contradicting the city’s bike/pedestrian environment.

To obtain ultimate approval, the Shipyard Associates must also get the City to agree to amend the 1997 Developer’s Agreement that requires this pier to be developed as open space with tennis courts and the public waterfront walkway. Thus far, Mayor Zimmer, her administration and the Hoboken City Council have expressed their adamant opposition to this project. The developers will have to convince the Mayor and Council to amend this agreement in order to build the Monarch, assuming the Planning Board grants the necessary variances and approves the project.

To read the full report submitted by Hoboken’s planner, click on the link below.

Related links

Banyra 2012-2-17 planner report
County Board stuns Monarch developers with “no” vote
FBW challenges state approval for towers on Hoboken pier
DEP flouts its permit to restore pier as open space
Shipyard’s plan to privatize pier