An invitation to disaster: building on piers along the Hudson River Waterfront
Jul 14, 2013 | 4876 views | 3 3 comments | 104 104 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Dear Editor:

Mayor Dawn Zimmer supported by the Hoboken City Council deserve kudos for diplomatically getting Hoboken out of inclusion in a very troubling state legislative bill that permits development on existing piers in high hazard areas located in the Special Urban Areas of the state (Briefs 6/29/2013). Good for Hoboken but what about the other 7 communities along the Hudson waterfront and those special urban areas along the shore? Due to Hoboken’s action, the bill was amended so that, if adopted as law, other municipal councils could pass legislation to opt out of it. What a waste of legislative work, time and expense to keep this disastrous bill in play! The better action right now is to contact Governor Christie and urge him to veto this bill.

A3933-S2680, according to one of its main sponsors, was intended to help a “handful” of developers who have plans “ready-to-go” on “5 or 6 “piers in these special areas but who now cannot apply for a permit to build due to the designation by FEMA and the state of these waterfronts as super high risk areas known as V Zones. The senator asks for “fairness” for these developers even though these V Zones are in the 100 year flood plain and subject to high velocity wave action of 3 feet or more. Along the Hudson during Sandy, waves rose 4 to 5 feet in most places and even up to 14 feet. Most of us saw the damage done to piers and the Hudson River Walkway. Haven't we learned anything from Sandy? Riva Point, a condo complex built on a pier in Weehawken, was so swamped during Sandy it became an island so that a heart attack victim could only be rescued by quick thinking police who found a pontoon boat to take the victim to the hospital (the patient survived).

Oddly enough, the bill does not mention anything about the 5 or 6 piers or the handful of developers or the need for fairness. There seemed to be no understanding by the members of an Assembly committee that held a hearing on the bill that they were aware of any of this, even that such piers would never be eligible for FEMA flood insurance. Hoboken Assemblyman Ruben Ramos is a member of that committee and was the only one to vote no. Thank you, Assemblyman. The term “existing pier” is not defined in the bill so could someone decide that the stubs of pilings that at one time supported an entire pier constitute an existing pier, or an old map that shows a pier now long gone? This bill is an invitation to place thousands of possible residents in harm’s way.

Please join us in urging the Governor to veto Bill S2680-A3933, a faulty and dangerous bill. Go to or phone (609) 292-6001.

Please help stop this from becoming law.
Helen Manogue, President
Hudson River Waterfront Conservancy of NJ, Inc.

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July 14, 2013
Actually the writer is wrong about how the new legislation works - municipalities don't have to pass legislation to "opt -out." They have to pass legislation to "opt-in."

This means that only municipalities who, at a public meeting, affirmatively choose to develop on their piers will be able to do so.

While its fine to write letters to the governor urging him to veto a law passed by large veto proof majorities, it is nothing but an empty gesture - just as Assemblyman Ramos's Committee vote (which was unaccompanied by any effort to change the minds of his colleagues) was an empty gesture and I understand that Mr. Ramos voted in favor of the passage of the final bill so the writer's thanks to him seems inconsistent with her position against the bill itself.

The real effective opportunity to oppose pier development will come if any municipalities propose legislation "opting in." That will be the time and the place for the letter writer, her organization, and those who share her views to make their case.

It will be interesting to see whether they show up to do so. When the time comes I will be there - I others will be as well.

July 14, 2013
2nd Ward Councilwoman disapoints her Ward and Hoboken once again.

It is shocking she would vote down funding to fight against the Monarch project.

July 14, 2013
Helen, I notice you failed to call out Beth Mason, Tim Occhipinti, Terry Castellano and Mike Russo for their failure to fund the legal battle against Applied Development who is currently suing the city so they can develop one of those piers in direct opposition to their previous agreement w/ the city to put tennis courts on that pier. You might want to write another letter condemning that sort of behavior by those CC members before some condos get built on that pier.