Citizens of Hoboken:
On Tuesday, October 2nd, the Hoboken Planning Board approved another development project in the northwest sector of Hoboken. The project at 825-853 Adams Street, covering an entire block between 8th and 9th and Grand and Adams, will include 111 luxury residential units and parking for 106 vehicles. The one-story Triboro Hardware building occupying the site will give way to a five story structure that will tower above Hoboken High School on Grand and, ironically, will block the views of the newly opened Columbus on 9th.
Within two blocks of this project on Madison, the construction of a Shop-Rite, a five-story structure, and a block-long 7 story building are all in progress. Various commercial and residential buildings are planned further west as part of the of the Northwest Redevelopment Project already approved by the Mayor and Council. All of this future development will add hundreds of cars to northwest Hoboken's streets.
The traffic engineer hired by the developers estimated that the level of traffic congestion would be at an "acceptable" level. This was based on four hours of traffic counting on a Wednesday last May, before any of these new projects have been occupied. He admitted that he did not know how many cars would be generated by any projects not yet operational. The traffic engineer's projections thus ignored most of the traffic that will flow from the newly built up western Hoboken.
The application also lacked information about the combined impact of this and nearby new projects connecting into the same ancient sewer pipes. Hoboken's sewers handle both rain water and sewerage and there is already a major problem, particularly west of Bloomfield (which is below sea level), with Hoboken streets being flooded with water contaminated with sewerage. Also unaddressed was the issue (raised by last summer's blackouts) of whether Hoboken's existing electrical infrastructure can accommodate all the future dishwashers, washing machines, dryers and air conditioners.
Instead of gathering reliable data of its own concerning the cumulative impact of the development which has inundated Hoboken in recent years, the Planning Board has put the fox in charge of the henhouse, relying on the testimony of experts hired by developers who predictably endorse their clients' projects. But the public and some members of the Board questioned whether this testimony is adequate to accurately gauge the negative impacts of the project on Hoboken, as the zoning law requires. Despite this lack of reliable information, the Board approved the project anyway by a six to three vote.
It is clear that the Planning Board is not fulfilling its primary function: to gather information on the impacts of development on Hoboken's scale, quality of life, and infrastructure; to develop a Masterplan which maps out what future development, if any, can be accommodated without substantial detriment to the residents; and to adjust the Zoning Law to reflect the limitations on development dictated by the Masterplan, so that both Zoning and Planning Boards have both the information and legislative authority they need to protect Hoboken's citizens from the abuses of overdevelopment. Instead, the Planning Board continues to review and approve projects without the information they need to function on behalf of the public.
Mayor Roberts promised that he would get a handle on the over-development by performing the needed cumulative impact studies and changing the Masterplan and Zoning Law accordingly. But we cannot wait. The Mayor and Council must recognize the health emergency that is unfolding and immediately declare a Moratorium on Development, as it is empowered to do under New Jersey State Law, so that Hoboken can update its zoning data and laws to give Hoboken's residents the protection we need and deserve.
We urge you to attend Zoning and Planning Board meetings so you can witness what is happening, and to contact your City Council representatives to demand that they immediately implement the Moratorium on Development.