Planning Board hearings resume; FWW's rally falls on deaf ears; Roseland Project application receiving same consideration, minus chairman's input
Approximately 50 members of the Friends of the Weehawken Waterfront gathered in front of Town Hall last Wednesday to protest the resumption of the Planning Board's hearings regarding the application for the second phase of the Roseland Development Project along the waterfront. The FWW rally was held prior to the first scheduled Planning Board hearing that was held since late February, ever since the process was halted due to a found impropriety. At that time, it was learned that Board Chairman Mark Gould owned property within 200 feet of the proposed development site - which is against state regulations. When it was learned that Gould was chairing the meetings while he owned the property, the Planning Board hearings were suspended, until developer Roseland Properties, Inc., headed by Carl Goldberg, decided what they wanted to do with the application process. After two months of meetings between the FWW and Roseland Properties over possible changes to be made to the proposed development, the negotiations abruptly stopped. Roseland then requested that the hearings proceed, minus the testimony heard while Gould was chairing the hearings over the past nine months. The hearings then resumed Wednesday, much to the dismay of the FWW and its president, Doug Harmon. "Literally, the developer spit in the face of the mayor, the Planning Board and the township," Harmon said. "It appears as if the developer just wants to wash his hands as quickly as possible of the hearings, because he knows that an appeal is imminent and will be in the court's hands. Harmon called the developer's request to resume the hearings while excluding other testimony "absurd." "They don't seem to have any concern now about getting an approval," Harmon said. "I thought these people were dealing in good faith for a while. I'm not so sure anymore." Harmon believes that the whole process is moot now. "They know we're going to appeal it one way or another," Harmon said. "They see it's going to move into the courtroom. That's the way it looks." Goldberg did not return phone calls by press time and has stated in the past that he would not comment until the entire planning board application process has been completed. Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner believes that the process is moving toward a possible and amicable solution. "We allowed the developer to re-introduce the testimony, only eliminating any testimony given to Mark Gould," Turner said. "And we left it up to them. They've decided that they don't want to change anything. They believe that the information was just as valuable with or without Mark. "There have been significant changes made to the original proposal and there will continue to be significant changes made to it," Turner said. "I have tremendous faith that the Planning Board will have a sense to put something together that will make sense for the entire community. We've met several times with all the different groups to come to some agreement. And there has been a lot of progress. I remain optimistic." However, Turner was also certain that the application process was headed for a courtroom appeal, long before the impropriety about Gould was discovered. "If [the FWW doesn't] get what they want, then it's going to court no matter what," Turner said. "They made that clear that it's been their plan since day one." The hearings will continue Thursday night in the Town Hall's Council Chambers, 400 Park Ave., at 7 p.m.