Settlement will spur development on west side City Council approves deal with Honeywell to clean up 100 acres

The City Council at its Wednesday meeting approved a resolution authorizing a pending settlement with Honeywell International Inc. that could begin the cleanup and development of 100 acres on the city’s west side.

A good portion of the land, some of which is owned by the city, has been contaminated by cancer-causing hexavalent chromium.

Forty-one acres of the land are owned by the city, and the rest is owned by Honeywell.

Once the final details are worked out and the land is cleaned, officials expect that there will be a drastic change of the city’s west side in the next 15 to 20 years.

The settlement includes details about how Honeywell and the city can develop the land in the future.Must clean up, and pay city

The settlement is coming as a result of lawsuits pursued in 2005 by the Jersey City Incinerator Authority and Jersey City Municipal Authority in federal court against Honeywell Inc., which is based in Morristown.

Honeywell’s corporate predecessor, Mutual Chemical Co., allegedly dumped tons of chromium on land across from its plant on Route 440, which includes the locations of the Jersey City Incinerator Authority, Jersey City Municipal Utilities Authority, and the Jersey City Department of Public Works.

Also to be settled is litigation by the Hackensack Riverkeeper, the environmental group that, since 1997, has worked to clean up the Hackensack River that runs though the western part of Jersey City, much of it polluted by the chromium that ended up seeping into the water.

Hackensack Riverkeeper founder Bill Sheehan spoke at the City Council meeting, praising not only the settlement but the work done by the city, with a nod in particular to City Corporation Counsel Bill Matsikoudis for representing the city in the initial litigation and working on the settlement.

Now, according to Matsikoudis, the settlement has to be approved by the state’s Department of Enviromental Protection before it is implemented. He said no date has been set for signing off on the settlement.

In the expected settlement, Honeywell – in addition to cleaning up the land – agrees to pay $15 million up front this year and $10 million next year to the city. Western promises

After the cleanup is completed, Honeywell is expected to be named as the master developer of the land.

Of the land, 41 acres are owned by the city and the rest is owned by Honeywell.

The city is presently working on a redevelopment plan for that area. Officials say they hope to see 8,000 units of housing, along with more than 1 million square feet of commercial and retail development, and 20 acres of open space.

The city also predicts they may get as much as $160 million in revenues from property sales and $45 million in annual property taxes from the deal.

The settlement also describes a plan that would relocate the Jersey City Incinerator Authority and Department of Public Works to land at the PJP landfill site located a mile away from the proposed cleanup land. However, Ward B Councilwoman Mary Spinello has objections over the move. At Wednesday’s meeting, she asked that the city look at alternative sites for the JCIA and Public Works.

But Honeywell is chipping in $13 million toward relocation as part of the settlement.

There are also plans drawn up for a state-of-the-art municipal complex on the land.

The Municipal Utilities Authority, also located on the tainted land, would remain at the site but would be rebuilt to take up less space.

Matsikoudis and urban planner Toni Nelessen presented plans of the settlement at Monday’s caucus meeting.

The settlement mentions that the following amenities may be built on the land in the future: a developed area to be called Transit Plaza; an extension of the Hackensack River walkway; a Hudson-Bergen Light Rail substation; a pedestrian-only thoroughfare, and 20 acres of open space.

For the open space, Honeywell would install a cap on the tainted soil to stop the seepage of chromium. Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at rkaulessar@hudsonreporter.com.

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