Hackensack River redevelopment plan approved Plan allows for AMB Warehouse and open space to possibly co-exist

At Wednesday’s Jersey City City Council meeting, the council approved by a 6-2-1 vote the Hackensack River Edge Redevelopment Plan, which would allow 137 acres of land between the river and Highway 1 & 9 on the west side of Jersey City, including the AMB warehouse site, to be developed.

The 883,000 square-foot warehouse would be built off Highway 1/9 by the San Francisco-based AMB Company. The facility would be a distribution center for items brought from ports in Newark and Elizabeth. But for over eight months, the warehouse issue was controversial because three groups of people wanted different uses for the site, a 54-acre section of the 87-acre old PJP Landfill site.

Mayor Jerramiah Healy wanted the warehouse to be built, the county wanted to use the land for a golf course, and residents wanted to see parks and to keep away the increasing truck traffic and pollution that they felt would result from the warehouse.

However, the introduction of the plan two weeks ago at a Sept. 26 special meeting of the Planning Board and the City Council meeting the following day, put to rest this contentious issue.

Voting for final adoption of the plan on Wednesday were council members Michael Sottolano, Mary Spinello, Mariano Vega, Steve Lipski, and Viola Richardson.

Voting against were councilmen Bill Gaughan and Peter Brennan. Councilman Steven Fulop abstained from voting.

Lipski called the plan, “a thoroughbred that has just won the trifecta.”Is it a Trojan horse or thoroughbred?

The plan calls for encouraging sustainable economic and social development and provides for green space initiatives such as recreational space and greenway corridors. The redevelopment area will be broken down into two sub-districts – an open space district with an overlay for a high cube warehouse and a strictly open space district for either a public park or recreational facilities.

There were still some who spoke out against the plan, saying it is a hastily done plan that was put together only to accommodate primarily AMB and make very few provisions for access to open space.

“There are too many questions that relate to it and giving AMB an opportunity to build their warehouse,” said Daniel Sicardi, a longtime resident of the city’s West Side.

Paul Catsandonis, chairman of the Lincoln Park Advisory Committee has been a vocal critic of the proposed warehouse in the past and the plan more recently by calling it a “Trojan horse” that goes against the initiative of the committee, which is to bring more open space to Lincoln Park to serve a growing Hudson County population.

“It seems to me that with Pavlovian repetition Mayor Healy has won the day with regards with the AMB Warehouse,” said Catsandonis. “In order words, by constantly repeating, he seems to have convinced if not seduced certain council persons to vote for this warehouse.”

Catsandonis said that he is considering a run for the Ward B City Council seat in 2009, which Mary Spinello currently occupies.

He also said that the Advisory Committee will be holding a meeting in Lincoln Park on Oct. 26 where Adam Zellner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection will be speaking to the public about the kind of cleanup needed for the old PJP Landfill site. Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at rkaulessar@hudsonreporter.com