The North Bergen Planning Board began hearing testimony June 24 from a developer who wants to build 60 residential units near a high-pressured Transco gas pipeline and near the Galaxy Towers Condos in Guttenberg.
The units are in North Bergen, but near the border with Guttenberg.
Approximately 60 local residents, including a group of Galaxy residents organized by Siat Ng, attended the Thursday, June 24 meeting.
The North Bergen Planning Board had previously heard a 140-unit proposal for the same land that has since been scaled back. Now they’re bringing a new proposal to the North Bergen Planning Board, which will decide whether or not to give the developer several variances.
“I can’t guarantee anything.” – Jose Carballo
The developer believes that the gas line posses no safety issue to construction.
What they want
Carmelo Spoleti, owner of Appleview, LLC, was represented at the hearing by attorney Carmine Alampi.
Alampi said that in order for the project to move forward, the Planning Board must grant a variance allowing them to build on the 2.3 acres of land, rather than the minimum size of 5 acres that the municipal ordinance normally requires for a project of this size.
The site is located at 7009 and 7101 River Road.
Alampi said that the building will cover a slightly higher percentage of the lot as far as building coverage goes, and thus, they will also need a variance for this.
Size of units
The 60-unit residential building will be 55 feet high, or five stories, and is designed in a horseshoe shape so that every unit has a view of New York City.
Appleview Architect Jose Carballo said that the building will be at about the height of the Palisades Cliffs.
The first floor would be constructed out of concrete and steel and would house the parking lot, lobby, and manager’s office. The rest of the building would be constructed out of a wood frame.
At Thursday’s hearing, Resident Bijian Marjan questioned why the building isn’t being constructed totally of concrete, considering it’s near a gasline and the material might be more fireproof. He asked Carballo if he felt a sprinkler system will be sufficient form stopping a fire from spreading.
“I can’t guarantee anything,” said Carballo. “I can’t guarantee that your name is Bijan like you said.”
The second and third floors would host 1- and 2-bedroom units that would range from 900 to 2,200 square feet. Some units would contain “dens.”
Galaxy Condo Association Attorney John Lamb questioned how Appleview could ensure that the dens won’t be turned into additional bedrooms. Carballo said he couldn’t guarantee anything.
The fourth and fifth floors will house duplexes that would contain two master bedrooms, a living room, dining room, office area, a rooftop deck, and a balcony.
Each floor would contain around six meeting rooms that Carballo said will be for residents to use as temporary offices or meeting areas.
Lamb and residents questioned the purposes of the rooms.
“I have to congratulate you,” said Peggy Wong. “I live in an apartment of 400 units and we have one meeting room…I’m just concerned as to what is going to go on in these rooms.”
Not enough parking
Carballo said that the building will have 118 parking spaces. There will also be 28 spots in front of the building for residents.
Steven Rosen asked what will happen if a resident throws a party and needs parking. Carballo simply said that he has met the state standard for providing spots.
Gas line near site
Lamb noted that Appleview is planning to link to the Transco Gas Line, located primarily in the adjacent lot, where the North Bergen Municipal Authority also stands. He said that the Planning Board has the power to stop the project based on its proximity to the gas line alone.
But Planning Board Attorney Steven Muhlstock said the board only has the power to decide whether the developer deserves the variances.
“This is not a jurisdictional issue in my mind,” said. “I think you are taking up this board’s time here. I don’t think it is appropriate to try to interfere with the application going forward.”
Alampi said that Appleview is voluntarily providing a 20-feet gas pipeline easement that will allow Williams Gas employees to access the site.
Alampi said that the gasline comes down from the Palisade Cliffs on the developer’s property and turns at an angle onto the North Bergen Municipal Authority lot.
The engineer for the Appleview project, Calisto Bertin, will give his testimony at a special Planning Board meeting on July 29 at 7 p.m.
Tricia Tirella may be reached at TriciaT@hudsonreporter.com.