The ordinance was authored by a group of citizens known as the Historic Hudson Street Coalition who paid for a planner and a lawyer out of their own pockets to craft a law that changes the zoning laws of the sub-district that houses the Stevens campus. Councilman Tony Soares sponsored the ordinance. Community members have said they believe the garage would not be good for their neighborhood.
Overview of the amendments
The new ordinance states that all future lighted athletic fields, auditoriums with more than 100 seats, parking facilities, hospitals and health clinics, and physical plant buildings should not be within a 100 feet of any residential home. If the ordinance passes, Stevens will be required to gain a variance for any of these uses. Also included are new requirements for distances between buildings. Additionally, building height regulations were modified so that there would be a 40 foot maximum within 200 feet of a residential zone, and 100 foot height limit elsewhere within the sub-district. The ordinance also includes requirements for more parking spaces. Furthermore, the ordinance clarifies and has a subsection on added requirements for facades within 100 feet of residential zone. These requirements include such things that make any new buildings "sympathetic to and compatible with the adjacent neighborhood." The new ordinance states that the university is prohibited to use loud speakers and field lighting for the hours of 10 p.m. to 10 a.m. and should only allow lights to be used for scheduled intercollegiate and intramural games. It's important to note that this is only the first vote in the process to ratify these changes. For it to become permanent, the Planning Board must review and vote on the ordinance. Then it is thrown back to the City Council for second and third readings. This process will take at least another month. What these mean now
The Stevens Institute of Technology already has presented its plans for a new athletic field upgrade and parking garage for the corner of Eighth and Hudson Streets. The plan calls for the expansion of two soccer fields and for a 376 space parking garage for members of the Stevens community, as well as 31,000 square feet of office space and 10,000 feet of miscellaneous storage space. Plans call for the garage to be built into a hill with the soccer field on top. The public hearing for this project is scheduled for the first Tuesday in June. As of right now, this project does not require any zoning variances from the city. A variance is given when a Zoning Board votes to allow the project to deviate from zoning guidelines. Needing a variance makes approval more difficult. If this ordinance passes before the plan is approved, Stevens would be required to gain a number of variances from the city. According to Stevens Director of University Relations Cass Bruton-Ward, Stevens' official stance on the ordinance is no comment. But the members of the Historic Hudson Street Coalition and members of the City Council, especially mayor-elect David Roberts and Soares, were elated with the outcome of the unanimous vote at Wednesday's meeting. "We feel these changes will provide better guidance for the development of this project while protecting the character of the surrounding neighborhood," said community activist and spokesperson for the Historic Hudson Street Coalition Elizabeth Mason. In the past, she said, "We had to fight every time they brought forth a new proposal. This new ordinance is going to help out everybody. It gives the city some leverage in maintaining a unified community appearance and it gives Stevens some parameters for future projects. They have to come to understand that to be a good neighbor, you have to keep open to dialogue, and that [Hoboken residents] shouldn't be hearing about new projects for the first time when they are up for approval by the Planning Board." Soares also agrees that this ordinance is going to benefit Hoboken. "This is a definite victory for the residents of Hudson Street," said Soares Thursday. "This is a community where everything that is built affects everybody. While it is a wonderful university, I think they often bully the city around in order to get new projects built. The tail is not going to wag the dog in this situation. This [project] is not going to be built in the time frame that Stevens promised." While Soares understands that there is a parking problem in Hoboken, he said he does not necessarily believe that putting a parking garage at that location is the solution. "Large parking lots will only bring more traffic to what is a peaceful residential area," he said. "If they want to build large parking garages in the middle of their campus, they are more than welcome to do so, but they're not going to be able to do so within 100 feet of any residences. This project will not be completed in its current form." Mayor-Elect Roberts echoed Soares' view of a new ordinance but went further to say that he would like to see Stevens divulge some sort of master plan that relates to future building projects. "I am hoping this will bring about a positive relationship between Stevens and the residents of Hoboken," he said, "and will create a dialog which is going to include people and not exclude them from the discussion of future projects that affect our community."