Two strikes on the Monarch towers

(July 10, 2012)
At one point, people began to chant, “Build the tennis courts. Build the tennis courts.” In 1997, the Shipyard Associates signed an agreement with the City of Hoboken that they would construct tennis courts, public parking and the public walkway on this pier also known as Development Block G. With the 1160-unit Shipyard Project Planned Unit Development approved in 1997 now fully built, developers David and Michael Barry are now seeking to replace the tennis courts with two ten-story residential towers.

In March, the Hudson County Planning Board rejected Shipyard’s application for the Monarch towers. Tonight, before a packed hearing at the Wallace School gymnasium, the Hoboken Planning Board also denied this proposal. No hearing took place. The attorney for the Hoboken Planning Board, Ronald Morgan, recommended “to deny” to the Board due to the pending litigation filed in March by the City of Hoboken seeking to enforce the 1997 Developer’s Agreement. Morgan said that there was no need to expend the time and resources of the Board unless Shipyard Associates is able to prevail in court. The application was denied in an unanimous vote that was greeted with enthusiastic applause.

The denial was “without prejudice,” meaining that the developers can resubmit their application before the Board if they are successful in court. The City’s lawsuit is likely to be consolidated with an appeal of tonight’s Board decision and also perhaps, the developer’s appeal of the Hudson County rejection.

The developers, through their attorney Kevin Coakley, also contend that no variances are required. The Planning Board’s planner Eileen Banyra disagrees. Mr. Morgan said that the application was further complicated by the failure of developer to properly notice to the public the need for variances. In her latest report dated July 6, Ms. Banyra states:

As of the date of this memo, there is still disagreement regarding the definition of development block and the resulting variances which has muddled the application and all of the resulting calculations. These issues have been identified in prior reports and letters to the Board Attorney but no variance application has been filed with the Board Secretary. Such a disagreement regarding an interpretation could also result in an application to the Board of Adjustment, but no application has been filed with that Board.

Hoboken Planning Board meeting of July 10, 2012 held at the Wallace School gymnasium.

Attorneys from the Eastern Environmental Law Center representing the Fund for a Better Waterfront (FBW) and from Stark & Stark representing the Hudson Tea Building have been working with a planner who has also prepared a report on the Monarch application. This planner agrees with Ms. Banyra’s analysis but has identified additional variances that will be required.

The developer submitted revised plans in June dropping the height of the towers from 11 to 10 stories each and reducing the number of units from 78 to 70. A number of other changes were made in an attempt to avoid the need for variances.

Joe Maraziti of Maraziti Falcon & Healey represents the City of Hoboken in the lawsuit to enforce the developer’s agreement. He attended tonight’s Planning Board meeting and stated that the attorneys are now going through discovery, identifying relevant documents in this case. FBW and the Tea Building are both expected to intervene in this litigation.

Related links

Hoboken Planning Board attorney’s letter of June 29, 2012
Hoboken Planning Board Planner’s memo of July 6, 2012
Freeholders counsel rejects Monarch appeal
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