Shipyard attempts to reverse Planning Board denials in court, fights FBW motion to intervene

(November 29, 2012 Update)
Judge Barry Sarkisian has recused himself from the City of Hoboken v. Shipyard Assocs. case due to a conflict of interest. Although he has sat on this case from the beginning, it came to light that he had formerly provided legal representation to the development company prior to being appointed to the bench. This and other appeals pertaining to the Monarch Towers are now before Hudson County Superior Court Judge Patrick Arre.

Judge Arre has consolidated all three cases, the City of Hoboken v. Shipyard, and the Shipyard’s appeals of the County and Hoboken Planning Board denials into one. The City’s lawsuit to enforce the developer’s agreement with the Shipyard Assocs. to build the pier as open space will be heard first. Today, the Shipyard’s attorney declined to argue the FBW motion to intervene. Thus, that motion will be heard on Friday, December 14 at 1:30 p.m.

(October 21, 2012)
The Shipyard Associates have filed complaints in Superior Court challenging the denials of its applications before the Hudson County Planning Board and the Hoboken Planning Board. Developers, brothers Michael and David Barry, have been seeking approvals to build two towers on a Hoboken pier where they had previously agreed to provide open space, including tennis courts, a tennis pavilion and the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway.

On March 7, the City of Hoboken filed a lawsuit to enforce the 1997 developers agreement between the City and Shipyard Associates. In September, the Fund for a Better Waterfront (FBW) filed a motion to intervene in this case. Superior Court Judge Patrick Arre will hear the motion this Friday, November 16 in the Brennan Courthouse, 583 Newark Avenue, Jersey City.

Shipyard Associates has challenged the intervention claiming that FBW does not have standing. In his brief to the Court, FBW attorney Michael Garofalo of Laddey Clark & Ryan, cites the case, Home Builders League v. Tp. of Berlin. In this case, the NJ Supreme Court granted intervention to various non-profits and the public advocate’s office in matters challenging a zoning ordinance.

On October 22, the Shipyard’s attorney wrote to Judge Sarkisian, who has heard this case from the beginning, pointing out that he had represented the developers when he was an attorney at Sarkisian, Florio & Kenny in Hoboken, NJ prior to being appointed to the bench. The Judge will have to respond to this inquiry of a possible conflict of interest and may be forced to step down from the case.

In 1997, the Hoboken Planning Board granted approval to the Shipyard Associates to build 1160 residential units at the northeast corner of Hoboken, a prime piece of waterfront real estate. Last year, the developers completed the final units of this project and then submitted an application to build 78 additional units in two high-rise towers on a pier at the north end of their project. The original approvals for this planned unit development (PUD) in 1997 designated this pier as open space.

The City of Hoboken, represented by the law firm Maraziti, Falcon & Healey of Short Hills, New Jersey, charges breach of contract and seeks a declaratory judgment upholding the 1997 agreement. Attorneys representing the Hudson Tea Building Condo Association have also filed a motion to intervene in this case.

Monarch pier.

Google Earth image of dilapidated pier slated for Monarch towers.

The FBW motion to intervene will be heard by Judge Arre on December 14

Last year, the Monarch project obtained a waterfront permit from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) to build the towers. FBW, the City of Hoboken, and the Hudson Tea Building all filed appeals of the permit decision and have been waiting nine months for the state’s Office of Administrative Law to grant a hearing. The 1997 NJDEP Permit required that the pier be developed as open within two years after the issuance of the last Certificate of Occupancy for the residential units.

FBW and the Hudson Tea Building hired a planner who reviewed the Monarch application and found that the developer had failed to request required variances. The basis of the Hoboken Planning Board denial was to allow the Court time to determine the validity of the 1997 developers agreement, before putting the Board through a lengthy and expensive hearing process.

Related links

Coakley letter re Judges conflict 10-22-2012
FBW reply brief Oct 17, 2012
Shipyard brief Oct 10, 2012
FBW letter brief 9-14-2012
FBW files motion to intervene in lawsuit to enforce Shipyard agreement
Two strikes on Monarch towers
Freeholders counsel rejects Monarch appeal
City sues Monarch developers for breach of contract
County Planning Board stuns Monarch developers with “no” vote
Can the waterfront walkway be a “street”?
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