Will Hoboken waterfront project get second chance? Judge overturns county freeholders’ rejection of Monarch project

HOBOKEN — In a major turn of events, the Hudson County Superior Court last month granted an automatic approval to a controversial plan to build two residential towers at the site of a northeast Hoboken pier.
This decision overturned rejections by the Hudson County Planning Board and the County Board of Chosen Freeholders. And the city of Hoboken has also opposed the project in its current form, saying they should build tennis courts and parking as promised in 1997.
The dilapidated Monarch pier, which juts out into Weehawken Cove, is the last undeveloped portion of a Planned Unit Development (PUD) that has added over 1,000 high-end residential units to the North End of Hoboken. The developer, Shipyard Associates LP, had promised to build tennis courts and parking on the pier in its 1997 PUD agreement, but in 2011 decided instead to seek two additional buildings totaling 78 residential units.
Though the May 21 Superior Court decision is almost certain to be appealed, and the project has yet to receive construction permits, the ruling eliminates the only standing rejection preventing Shipyard from moving forward with the proposed towers, known as Monarch at Shipyard.
The state Department of Environmental Protection approved the project in 2011, and a Superior Court judge ruled last year that Shipyard’s application was automatically approved before the Hoboken Planning Board after the board neglected to hold a required hearing.
The Hudson County Planning Board ruling was decided on similar statutory grounds. Under state law, county planning boards have only 30 days to act on site plan applications unless they get permission for an extension from the applicant and the relevant city planning board.
According to Superior Court Judge Patrick Arre, after the county planning board declined to vote on the Monarch application at a January 2012 hearing, it got permission for an extension from Shipyard, but made no effort to contact the Hoboken Planning Board. As a result, Shipyard’s application is automatically deemed approved.
The county planning board did eventually hold a second hearing outside the 30-day window in February 2012, at which it rejected the Monarch application. Shipyard challenged the decision in court, and Superior Court Judge Nesle Rodriguez eventually remanded the appeal to the freeholder board, which heard the case last October, affirming the planning board’s rejection.
Judge Arre also overturned the freeholders’ decision, ruling that they had heard inadmissible new evidence and relied too heavily on the judgment of the planning board, both of which violated the rules governing that type of appeal hearing.
Tiffanie Fisher, the president of the Hudson Tea Building Condo Association, called the Superior Court ruling “a disappointing and unfortunate outcome for our entire Hoboken community.” The Tea Building lies directly west of the Monarch’s proposed location and would lose much of its view if the towers were built.
The lawyer for the Hudson County freeholder board declined to comment, and the lawyer for the Hudson County Planning Board did not respond to a request for comment.
Ironstate Development, the parent company of Shipyard Associates, also declined to comment on the case, as it is currently in litigation.

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