A development complaint

An open letter to the City of Hoboken:

Please accept this letter as a formal complaint that you will be violating the Hoboken Zoning Ordinance in the construction of the South Waterfront redevelopment project in Hoboken.

The Waterfront at Hoboken Redevelopment Plan (the “Plan”) and Hoboken’s Zoning Ordinance mandate that building heights cannot exceed 175 feet for the southern half of the project and 125 feet for the northern half. These height limits are “measured to the parapet at the top of a building’s facades.” Although rooftop appurtenances can exceed these height limits, they cannot cover more than 15 percent of the roof area. (See the 7/1/97 amendment to the Plan, page 4.)

Final construction drawings at the on-site Port Authority construction office clearly indicate that the Block C residential building will be over-height. The building will measure 125 feet high to the top of the roof slab. However, when measured to the top of the parapet, as required by law, it will be about half a story too tall.

I am aware that the lease agreement with the developer states that 125-foot limit is to be measured to the top of the roof slab (at page 40). Nevertheless, this method of determining the total height of the building is not in conformance with the law. None of the three parties to the contract has the authority to supersede the zoning law.

Additionally, preliminary drawings for the commercial building on Block A, distributed by the developer at their recent ground breaking ceremony, show mechanical and decorative rooftop appurtenances covering much more than the 15 percent of the roof. This is more than permitted in the Plan, which is law in Hoboken. These decorative roof forms and mechanical housings will be more than 30 feet tall.

By design, the buildings on Blocks A and C will exceed their legal heights.

Please let me know what action you will take to prevent the project construction from violating the Zoning Ordinance. The people of Hoboken have continually been told that the project conforms to local law and the buildings all fit within the zoning envelope. This matter is of some urgency as the construction on Block C is proceeding rapidly.

Annette E. Illing


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