In 1908 Union Dry Dock & Repair Co. opened in Weehawken, bought the Hoboken property in 1976 and moved its operations here in the 1980s where there has been a dock located since around 1915. Union Dry Dock’s property amounts to 8.36 acres: 3.15 acres of land and 5.21 acres of water. Yes, they have riparian rights of the waters and these are special rights pertaining to the use of the water abutting their property for any purpose required for their business to function. In eminent domain cases, these riparian rights are very valuable. To use eminent domain to seize Union Dry Dock’s property, which in actuality is now owned by NY Waterways since Nov. 3, 2017, the city would have to consider the water rights and would have to pay for taking these water rights away from this business. Plus they would have to pay for a lot more, as NY Waterway Chairman Armand Pohan stated to the City Council:
“The power of condemnation is a formidable tool. It gives you the right to tell a property owner, ‘Get out.’ For this, however, you must pay. We have acquired this property for $11.5 million in an arms-length transaction. But that is just the beginning of the bill. You are not talking about relocating a pizzeria. You are talking about a unique piece of property and use which, incidentally, must be located on the water. Now you must identify another site for us to relocate and pay the costs of that relocation. Any possible site would involve millions of dollars in dredging costs; the building of piers and structures similar to those which already exist on the Union Dry Dock property; and unknown environmental cleanup costs. Even more important than these capital costs are the additional costs arising from bringing boats to and from a remote location instead of a central location – more labor costs, more fuel costs, more waste of human time and more burning of fossil fuels in an area already struggling to meet clean air standards. All of these costs, which are in the tens of millions of dollars, will be borne by your taxpayers in a condemnation award, and if not, then by your constituent ferry riders in the form of higher fares. In either event, Hoboken residents lose.”
Is it logical to incur phenomenal costs for a walkway that NY Waterways will build for the city anyway? We can access the waterfront already! Let us not be greedy and stupid at the same time. According to New Jersey eminent domain law, property that is already devoted to a public use cannot be taken for another public use because such an acquisition will totally destroy and interfere with a public use – ferry transportation.
NY Waterways refuses to sell to the city. Union Dry Dock’s property fits their needs perfectly. It is illogical to try to eminent domain their property that will cost millions. It is too late. Let it go.