This was good news for those who want to preserve the embankment for a park or nature trail. But the application will still be held Dec. 20.
The Embankment is a series of sandstone and granite blocks spanning Sixth Street from Marin Boulevard to Brunswick Street, over which a section of the Pennsylvania Railroad freight line ran from 1902 until the late 1970s. Since 1998, city residents have spearheaded a movement to preserve the Embankment, hoping to transform it into a passive park and nature trail.
But embankment owner and real estate developer Steve Hyman would like to build two-family homes there. Hyman purchased the Embankment from Conrail in July for $3 million. Unless the city forcibly takes over the property, he theoretically has the right to apply to build there.
Hyman, through his attorney Carmine Alampi, will have to present a site plan to the city's Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) on Dec. 19. After he gets the result, he will go before the Planning Board the next day.
But there is something else standing in Hyman's way. Even if he gets this approval, he may not be able to knock down the embankment. The Embankment was designated a municipal landmark by the city in January of 2003. The designation impedes developers from going ahead with demolishing a structure because of its historical status. Hyman said he will be fighting this in court.
Hyman's critics claim that Hyman is applying to subdivide the lots only to ensure the value of the land increases substantially if he ultimately decides to sell the land without building on it.Another emotional issue
Another issue on the Planning Board's itinerary elicited expressions of dissent.
The board tabled an application for the Fowler Avenue Health Care Center, a new nursing home and rehabilitation facility at 196-198 Stevens Ave., after hearing residents of Stevens and Van Nostrand avenues object to it.
The residents objected to the developers not writing to inform them that the 300-bed, eight-story nursing home and rehabilitation facility was being proposed for construction.
The developers, Stevens Avenue Realty, LLC, a subsidiary of Omni Asset Management in Jersey City, presented an application to the Planning Board with a preliminary and final site plan for the new facility, as well as an application to subdivide the two lots at Stevens Avenue into three lots.
Currently at that location is the Newport Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center, a long-term care facility with 183 beds and 67 affordable housing units for senior citizens.
It was founded in 1915 as a cottage that housed the Hebrew Home for Orphans. The developers are planning to demolish the current six-story building and build the new one adjacent to the old facility.
Tommy Josko lives with his wife Toni on Van Nostrand Avenue, located on the side of the current nursing home not slated for development. Josko had attended the Planning Board meeting on Nov. 1 and asked the board to postpone approving the developer's applications until their next meeting, so that more residents could hear a presentation of the project.
Josko spoke at Tuesday's meeting along with other residents who were opposed to new structure. At least 30 residents from the vicinity of the proposed new facility came to the meeting.
"The homeowners in the area strongly oppose this project.
There are numerous reasons why," said Josko. "Many of us enjoy entertaining out in the backyard. Now we're going to look up and not see the sky; we'll see an eight-story building. Or we're going to see an open window with some patients roaming around."
Josko also expressed concern that the building would produce more traffic in the congested area, where Greenville Hospital and the Greenville Branch of the Jersey City Public Library is also located.
Diane Molesky lives on Stevens Avenue across the street from the proposed facility. Molesky said in the 15 years she has lived in her house, she never knew it was located in a medical zone that allowed for the construction of such facilities. She also warned that the neighbors will not welcome the project.
"Unfortunately, if this continues and goes through, they are going to lose quite a few taxpayers in Jersey City," said Molesky.
The residents received support from City Councilman at-Large Peter Brennan, who owns a home and a bar blocks from the site of the new nursing home. Brennan said that the new facility would diminish the parking spaces on the streets used by area residents. He said he was informed that 200 employees are projected to work in the new facility.
The Planning Board recommended that Thomas O'Connor, the attorney for Stevens Avenue Realty LLC, meet with the residents to present the developer's plans for the facility. The board then tabled the application for their first Planning Board meeting in January, after community input is taken into consideration.
Planning Board Commissioner and Ward A City Councilman Michael Sottolano, along with Brennan and O'Connor, scheduled the community meeting for this coming Tuesday at the Moose Lodge of Jersey City on West Side Avenue.