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Below is a memo of comments on the August 2008 Western Edge Redevelopment Plan(RP). I discussed this memo with the Council Subcommittee on September 10, 2008. Thereafter, a new draft of the Redevelopment Plan dated September 2008 was prepared.. I have compared the two drafts and made notes in bold on the original memo as to the changes. Where no bold notes appear, no changes were made to the RP in response to the memo.

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COMMENTS ON THE AUGUST 2008 WESTERN EDGE REDEVELOPMENT PLAN

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At the request of the Hoboken Planning and Zoning Committee, these comments are submitted in response to the “August 2008 Western Edge Redevelopment Plan” prepared by Phillip Preiss Shapiro (PPS) regarding the proposed Redevelopment Plan for the Western Edge redevelopment zone (RP). Comments also reference the Hoboken Master Plan adopted in April, 1994 (MP) prepared by PPS.

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A redevelopment plan should be viewed as one of the most important documents in the redevelopment process. It defines the development and sets the parameters for developer proposals, developer negotiations and agreements, development permitting and approvals and build-out. Fundamentally, the more specificity that is in the document, the more control the City will have over the project. The ability to maintain City control is the benefit of doing redevelopment rather than simply rezoning. If the language in the redevelopment plan does not establish that control, it will hinder control in all subsequent documents and actions. Quite simply, if the redevelopment plan does not state the City’s terms, conditions and demands for the project, the City will be at a serious disadvantage at the negotiating table with the developer and thereafter. As the redevelopment agency, the City Council will be held accountable for the project and thus control by the City Council is critical. I.

INCONSISTENCY WITH MASTER PLAN A.

Predominantly Residential Development


The RP calls for predominantly residential development. Of the over 1.4 million square feet of development, only 25,000 s/f (2%) will be devoted to non- residential development. It should be noted that this is 5,000 s/f less commercial development than the amount that was presented at the June 25, 2008 public meeting. There is no explanation for this 20% reduction in non-residential use. This high density residential development is not consistent with the Master Plan which specifically calls for office development in the Industrial Transition Area on the westside. This Western Edge area is designated as an “Industrial Transition Area”. The MP states: “Limited industrial uses will continue to be permitted in these areas with public facilities and office development permitted as well. (MP - p. 158).

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In addition to this clear statement of intent for office development, the Master Plan specifically states that: “The land use mix in Hoboken is skewed towards residential and other noncommercial uses. Even with recent growth in office space, it appears that the office market in Hoboken can accommodate additional office space.” (MP- p 74)

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Most significantly, the MP expressly recommends, “smaller scale offices around the light rail stations” (MP- p.74). Since the western edge directly abuts the 9th Street light rail station, it is inconsistent with the Master Plan to ignore the recommendation for office uses that would stimulate new businesses and jobs for Hoboken.

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The Master Plan also recognizes that Hoboken has a tradition of mixing uses and that a wide range of uses can coexist in even a small geographic area such as Hoboken. The Master Plans specifically recommends that Hoboken should continue to “maintain an appropriate mix of land uses.” (MP- P. 32) A predominately residential development is inconsistent with this recommendation. No discussion is provided in the RP as to why office development and the taxes revenues from such development are not as capable as residential development of underwriting some of the park land costs. There is no discussion in the RP with respect to the increased tax burden that results from residential development. Recent press suggests that the police department is outgrowing its space yet again. That growth is directly related to the increase in population due to new residential development. Consideration should be given to examining the tax impact of the existing NW Redevelopment zone. Even, the NW Zone more commercial density than is being proposed for the Western Edge. Commercial neighborhood services are seriously lacking for the new residents of the NW Zone. The minimal retail proposed in the RP for the Western Edge does nothing to alleviate this problem. The effect of this RP is to create a residentially dominated development which will over the long-term create an increased demand for City services that will outpace the tax revenue it generates. It also provides no opportunity to for Hoboken to expand its tax

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base to non-residential uses which would generate higher revenues per City services required and create new jobs. While some may say the office market is soft, that is also now true of the residential market. Hoboken should not make its long term development decisions on the basis of short term market demand. If this is truly the last frontier before Hoboken reaches full build out, then Hoboken should provide for its land use needs rather than providing what the short term development market desires to build.

B.

Height

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The 400% increase in building heights proposed by the RP( existing zoning 4 stories RP zoning 16+ stories) is inconsistent with the MP. A review of the MP reveals that most of the discussion of height in the MP is contained in the description of the exiting land use regulations (MP – p.19- 20). Immediately following this existing height discussion, are the recommendations. (MP- p. 22 -25) No where in those MP recommendations is there any mention of a goal to increase height for Hoboken.

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The MP map of the existing permitted building heights demonstrates that Hoboken is predominately a low rise community consisting of mostly two to five stories (MP- p. 20 and 29, Table II-2). Pockets of higher buildings have come to Hoboken only after many growing pains. Ten years of litigation and two voter referendums preceded the construction of the south waterfront buildings; four years of appeals and litigation preceded the Shipyard development. The failure to adopt zoning regulations for almost five years after the adoption of the MP has led to major variance approvals of controversial high-rise condominium projects (101 Marshall and 900 Monroe).

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Page 9 of the proposed RP states that one of the goals and objectives is to “allow for taller buildings in exchange for open space”. It should be noted that there is no mention of this “height for open space exchange” in the goals and objectives in the MP Land Use Recommendations for the West Side. (MP. p.124-126) : “Hoboken is in need of additional open space and community facilities. To the greatest extent possible, new development –particularly in this section of the Cityshould contribute to the provision these elements”. (MP, p. 125) There is no economic information in the RP nor any information provided at the public meetings to substantiate the enormous height increase (400% of the existing height) in exchange for open space. Thus, there is no way for the public or the City Council to evaluate the trade-off. The City should first consider what is an acceptable height and density for the long term viability of the City. This decision can not be made without appropriate economic

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information as to the cost and benefits of development. Such cost benefit analysis should be done with the assistance of a qualified financial consultant.

C.

Palisades

The RP proposes enormous height increases for the westside from the existing 4 stories to as high as 16 stories. The RP states: The goal is to keep the overall building height below that of the top of the Palisades”

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No where in the MP is there precedence or support for creating buildings the height of the Palisades. It coincidently appears that the rationale for height in the RP comes straight from the site plan application to the zoning board submitted by Tarragon to support its 12 story development on 900 Monroe. (RP. p 29 and 31, Figures 11 through 13). This calls into question the rationale that the public has been presented that the height is driven by the necessity to generate revenue to subsidize open space.

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The RP recommendation for up to 16 stories also ignores the MP limitation on height for the area bounded by the Palisades. The MP specifically recognizes the “visual relief” that the cliffs of the Palisades provide to Hoboken, which is a “densely developed community with limited open space resources.” The MP expressly recommends “limitations on height” to protect the view of this natural resource from Hoboken. (MP – p. 22).

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The RP proposes that “buildings taller than five stories be oriented east/west so as to preserve views through to the Palisades and also maximize views of project residents”. (RP- p.30) Contrary to the MP, the RP language expresses more concern for protecting the views of the project residents than that the views of the public. Nowhere in the MP is there mention of protecting “project resident views” as a goal or recommendation. This is clearly a developer goal. Certainly, the public is not interested in accepting higher density development for the benefit of creating views for a select few.

D.

Park and Recreational Space

Another clear mandate in the MP for the western area is park land. The MP clearly identifies the critical lack of open space in Hoboken no matter what park standard applies. (MP – pp. 41-44) It also specifically recognizes that the applicable park standard is 2.0 acres of active recreational space per one thousand people. Thus, with Hoboken’s current population in excess of 40,000, and estimates of well over 50,000 when built out, Hoboken should be looking to acquire and develop more than 100 acres of active recreational space. Hoboken has only 40 acres of such land, which includes both existing parkland and that presently owned and being constructed but not yet on line. That represents a 60 acre open space deficit which needs to be addressed.

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With each new building built in Hoboken, we add new residents without providing new open space and increase the park deficit. Many of the new developments in Hoboken have not provided any open space. For those developments which have, much of the open space is not active but passive space such as building plaza areas. The amount of open space most often does not even meet park-to-resident ratio open space standards to satisfy the increase in population from the development alone, never mind reducing the deficit. Recognizing this significant problem, the MP specifically states: “The City should aggressively pursue the creation of new parks and recreational facilities.” (MP – pp. 41-47 and Map 4)

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Map 4 identifies 6.53 acres of park along the light rail between 9th and 12th Streets (Blocks 92, 93, 97, 101 and 105) as proposed new park land.

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At both the first and second meetings on this proposed RP, the public clearly expressed its desire for information which would justify the conclusion that it is economically infeasible to create the MP park land as suggested in the MP on the Western Edge. No data has been provided in response to that request by the public to date. Instead, the public has only been repeatedly told that it must accept large-scale development of undisclosed height and density in order for the public to receive any park land.

II.

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If the City sincerely demonstrates the economic basis of its decision to dispense with park land on the Western Edge, as called for in the MP, it may very well be that the public can accept that decision. But without any substantiated financial data, the public should not be expected to simply accept the loss of MP proposed park land. Presently, the public is being told that a developer paid a great deal of money for the land and that it is too expensive to develop as park. Factual information about actual land values and zoning variance changes should be provided to the public if that is in fact the justification for of the City’s decision to diverge from the clear intention of the MP park recommendations.

VISION AND GOALS (RP p. 9)

Although the RP indentifies the goals of the plan as open space, additional retail and affordable housing (RP p 9), the RP is written predominately to meet a different goal which is residential. This residential portion of the plan has the most detail in the language of the RP. Eleven pages are devoted to detailing building bulk standards. Only two bullets are devoted to affordable housing, one paragraph to the community center and just two and one half pages are devoted to open space and recreation. (RP 18-21)

III.

OPEN SPACE AND RECREATION (RP p18)

Although the RP lists open space and recreation as the first key element of the plan ( RP p. 1), the language of the RP lacks mandatory specificity and does not assure the parks

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will be built nor assure the City Council will have control over park design or function. At the very least, the RP should specify when in the course of the development the community benefits will be completed so that those improvements are not built last. Language should be included to enforce this by conditioning the issuance of certificates of occupancy for the buildings on the completion of the community center, parks and green circuit. A.

4.4 Acres Open Space

Open Space and Recreation (RP p 18)

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B.

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The RP states that two large parks (3.2 acres), a green circuit (1.23 acres) and a 30,000 s/f community center are key elements of the plan ((RP- p 1). The acreage sited in the RP for these public amenities appears inconsistent with the overall acreage of the redevelopment area. Under the RP, the acreage for the four properties totals 10.94 acres. The RP also states that the acreage for the parks and green circuit totals 4.4 acres (RP p 1). The inconsistency occurs when the RP defines the” Building Zones“ (RP p 23) which is the area for residential and mixed use development. When one subtracts the total redevelopment zone acreage (10.94) from the building zone acreage (8.65 acres), it appears that there is only 1.99 acres left for parks and green circuit, not 4.4 acres.

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The RP lack detail as to parks other than to provide a general location for the parks. (RP p 18) Missing from the language of the RP is any reference to the requirement that the parks be “public” other than the reference to the public pool and in the “mews” definition. Thus there is nothing in the RP regarding how the title to the land will be held and who will be responsible for the operation and maintenance of the park land and community center. Without this detail in the RP, any developer proposal and pro-forma will be incomplete in its understanding of the cost of the project.

The RP states that the following types of open space be provided: “At grade, publically accessible open space (parks, playgrounds, plazas, trails, green circuit, etc shall occupy at least 40% of the total area of the redevelopment area, i.e. +- 4.4 acres, excluding public streets” ( RP p 18). This definition is profoundly vague and may explain the discrepancy in the purported open space acreage described in these comments above. Under the language of this definition, open space can include any and all of the following - public sidewalks, public rights of way, building entrance plazas, light rail buffer bushes, building setback areas and even the truck easement and building plaza space from the 900 Monroe zoning board approval. Thus, there is enormous latitude in what the developer can include in the calculation of open space. Because the acreage is described as “plus or minus 4.4 acres”, even the amount of open space is uncertain. Without a specific description in the RP of

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the actual amount and location of the land devoted to open space, there is no assurance of any amount of acreage.

CHANGE PG 18. A NEW PARAGRAPH HAS BEEN ADDED TO THE DEFINITION OF WHAT IS INCLUDED AND NOT INCLUDED IN MEETING THE 40% OPEN SPACE. INCLUDED IS:

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“PEDESTRIAN CIRCULATION SPACES” (I ASSUME THIS INCLUDES PUBLIC SIDEWALKS) “AT GRADE PUBLICLY ACCESSIBLE PLAZAS AND COURTYARDS”

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“PEDESTRIAN - ONLY MEWS” (THE DEFINITION OF MEWS SAYS IT INCLUDES ENTRANCES TO THE BUILDING UNITS)

EXCLUDED IS:

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“BUFFER PLANTNGS ALONG THE LIGHT RAIL”

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MEWS THAT ALLOW DAILY VEHICULAR USE (THUS I ASSUME MEWS WITH VEHICULAR USE LESS THAN DAILY WILL COUNT AS OPEN SPACE)

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PARKING OR ACCESS TO PARKING LANDSCAPED ROOFS DRIVEWAYS AND DROPOFFS BUILDING SETBACKS FACING PUBLIC STREETS (THUS IT APPEARS BUILDING SETBACKS ALONG LIGHT RAIL WILL COUNT AS OPEN SPACE) 3FT PLANTER AREAS ADJACENT TO PARKING GARAGES THE NEW DRAFT REMAINS VERY GENEROUS WHEN IT COMES TO INCLUDING NORMAL BUILDING IMPROVEMENTS (SUCH AS BUFFFER PLAINTINGS AND SIDEWALKS) AS OPEN SPACE.

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THE DEFINITION OF MEWS IS FOUND IN TWO DIFFERENT FOOTNOTES (PGS.18 AND 19). ONE SAYS MEWS IS “PEDESTRIAN – ONLY” AND THE OTHER SAYS THEY” MAY ACCOMMODATE VEHICULAR TRAFFIC”. ONE SAYS THE MEWS SHOULD BE 25 FEET IN WIDTH, THE OTHER SAYS IT SHALL BE SHALL BE ATLEAST 25FT IN WIDTH. ALSO, THE USE OF SHOULD AND SHALL IS INCONSISTENT.

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More disturbing is that all of the park land in the RP is referred to as “Passive Parks”. (RP p18) The recent creation of passive parks by developers has been a serious problem for the residents who have been anxiously awaiting new baseball, basketball and soccer fields which have not materialized despite enormous development. Clearly, developers have demonstrated their desire to prohibit active parkland adjacent to their residential buildings (e.g. Maxwell Place and Toll 15th Street). The RP does not address this, thus ignoring the MP’s call for active recreation in this area. CHANGE PG 18

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WHILE THE ABOVE CONCERN REGARDING PASSIVE PARKS IS NOT ADDRESSED, NEW LANGAUGE HAS BEEN ADDED TO DESCRIBE THE LOCATION OF PARK BLOCKS 1 AND 2. THE LANGUAGE NOW INCLUDES THE LOTS AND BLOCKS THAT COMPRISE THE PARKS. UNFORTUNATLEY, PARK BLOCK 1 HAS BEEN REDUCED IN SIZE FROM +-1.4 ACRES TO 1.03 ACRES. PARK BLOCK 2 HAS BEEN REDUCED IN SIZE FROM +- 1.73 ACRES TO 1.56 ACRES.

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A NEW PARAGRAPH HAS BEEN ADDED TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT PARK BLOCKS 1 AND 2 DO NOT ADD UP TO 4.4 ACRES AS RAISED IN THE COMMENTS. IT STATES THAT THE MISSING 1.81 ACRES MUST BE PROVIDED AS PART OF THE GREEN CIRCUIT OR WITHIN BUILDING ZONES. WITHOUT MORE SPECIFICITY BEING PUT INTO THE PLAN, THE LOCATION OF OVER 40% OF THE OPEN SPACE IN THE PLAN IS LEFT TO THE DESCRETION OF THE DEVELOPER. BECAUSES THE GREEN CIRCUIT IS ONLY DEFINED AS A 25 FOOT PATH ALONG THE LIGHT RAIL( PG 20), THERE IS NO INFORMATION IN THE PLAN AS TO HOW MUCH ACREAGE A 25 FOOT PATH WILL PROVIDE PARTICULARLY IN LIGHT OF THE FACT THAT OPEN SPACE INCLUDES THE BUFFER PLANTINGS ALONG THE LIGHT RAIL.

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The City Council should pay close attention to the repeated references to the words “may” and “should” in this open space section (RP p. 18 and 20). Whenever those words are used, it is not a mandatory requirement for the developer and the City gives up control. That is because the language of the RP that occurs as early as page 2 where the word should is first defined as follows: “Should means that the developer is encouraged to comply but not required to do so. If the exact recommendation can not be met, the planning board will entertain any modification that meets the underlying spirit and intent of the regulation and/ the Redevelopment Plan.” (RP p. 2) NO CHANGE PAGE 2,

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THIS LANGUAGE WAS DISCUSSED IN SOME DETAIL AT THE COMMITTEE. WHILE THE REVISED PLAN CHANGED THE WORD FROM “SHOULD” TO “SHALL” INCERTAIN PLACES, THIS PARAGRAPH REMAINS AND CREATES A SEROUS SHORTCOMING IN THE AUTHORITY OF THE CITY COUNCIL AS THE REDEVELPOMENT AGENCY.

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This language creates a very broad loophole for the developer in the document. The Council must look very closely at all instances in the RP where the word “should” is used. In any instance where the term is used, it is not a mandatory requirement. More significantly, any place where the term “should” is used, the Council’s control over the development is ceded to the developer and planning board.

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One example of this is the use of the word “should” in describing the mews. Even though the RP show pictures of the mews as a community benefit, the actual language about the mews does not mandate them: “Either a mews or circular hardscaped plaza should be provided at the end of each of the numbered streets to provide a sense of arrival to the open space as well as a to provide a terminus along the streets” (RP p 18) CHANGE PG 18. “SHOULD” IN THIS PARAGRAPH HAS BEEN CHANGED TO “SHALL” IN RESPONSE TO THE COMMENT. “SHOULD” WAS NOT CHANGED TO “SHALL” IN THE FOLLOWING “PARKS SHOULD BE LOCATED AT GRADE OF THE SIDEWALK, WITH BARRIER FREE ACCESS”. THUS, A DEVELOPER CAN PROVIDE A PARK THAT IS NOT AT GRADE PROVIDED THE PLANNING BOARD ALLOWS IT. THIS DISCRETION IS PROVIDED

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TO THE PLANNING BOARD BY THE LANGUAGE ON PG 2 OF THE RP (SEE DISCUSSION ABOVE)

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“SHOULD” WAS ALSO CHANGED TO “SHALL” IN THE GREEN CIRCUIT SECTION. THE GREEN CIRCUIT SECTION RAISES A QUESTION BECAUSE IT STATES ( PG 20) THAT “A PORTION OF THE GREEN CIRCUIT SHALL BE BUILT ALONG THE HBLR”. THERE IS NO EXPLANATION ABOUT WHERE THE REMAINING PORTION IS OR WHERE IT WILL BE LOCATED IN THE PROJECT. THE WIDTH OF THE CIRCUIT IS STILL UNLCEAR. IS THE 3 FT BUFFER NEXT TO BUILDINGS AND THE 5 FT BUFFER NEXT TO THE HBLR INCUDED IN THE 25 FT WIDTH CIRCUIT? IF SO, THE PEDESTRIAN PATH IS ONY 17 FT WIDE. BUILDING LANDSCAPING SHOULD NOT ENCROACH ON THE 25 FT PUBLIC WAY. Because of the word “should” in the language above, the developer and the planning board have the discretion not to require the mews in the development. (RP p 2)

Community Center and Pool (RP p 21)

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In both the definition of open space (RP p 18) and the design guidelines for the park blocks (RP p 20), the RP uses the word “may” in describing the park amenities. The only mandatory element for the new park area is a dog run and tot lot. The effect of this language is that the City gives up control over the design of the community benefit and has the potential to get no more than grass, bushes and two fenced in areas for tots and dogs. Certainly, the public expects more then this in exchange for three blocks of up to 16 story buildings.

Perhaps the most significant example of non-mandatory language problem in the RP is in the description of the location of the community center: “The Plan requires the development of a community center with an outdoor public pool that may be developed on or off-site” (RP p. 18) CHANGE PG 18 THE LAST 7 WORDS OF THE ABOVE SENTENCE HAVE BEEN DELETEED IN THE REVISED RP. THE LOCATION OF THE POOL AND COMMUNITY CENTER REMAINS UNKNOWN AND IN THE DEVELOPER’S DISCRETION pg 21). THIS IS THE MAJOR AMENITY BEING OFFERED FOR THE PROJECT AND YET THE RP CONTAINS ALMOST NOT DETAIL. IT IS UNCLEAR WHY THE POOL IS DESCRIBED AS “PUBLIC” BUT NOT THE COMMUNITY CENTER.

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In effect, the language fails to establish any location for the community center and leaves that decision to the developer. Curiously, the one thing mandated in this section is that if the community center is to be located off-site, it must be within 500 feet of the redevelopment zone. There is no explanation for this odd requirement other than it is an attempt to refer to the location of the land next to the electrical transformer substation without mentioning the transformer substation. Most worrisome is that the RP puts the control over the location and design of the community benefit in the hands of the developer not the public.

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The community center is a very important element in this plan. It is critical that the location of the center be determined by the public and the City based upon the location that is most beneficial to the residents not based upon whatever land is left after the developer fulfills its desired FAR building ratio. The one paragraph description of the community center in the RP (RP p21) is not the level of detail needed to assure the public and inform the developer that this time they will get a community center. A question also exists as to whether the City Council can require a community center to be built outside of the redevelopment area without properly zoning such land for that use.

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When referring to the community center, the RP states that the facility shall provide for:

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minimum 2 story 25,000 square foot building designed to accommodate. gymnasium space with basketball courts; men’s and women’s locker rooms, arts and craft and dance studios, a computer lab; offices; and an outdoor swimming pool and kiddie pool”( RP p 21)

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This language can be construed to mean that the only thing the developer must build is the shell building of 25,000 square feet that would “accommodate” the amenities.

CHANGE PG 21

THE WORDS “DESIGNED TO ACCOMMODATE” HAVE BEEN DELETED IN RESPONSE TO COMMENT There is no language which expressly provides that the developer must build the amenities listed. There is also no reference to the land ownership. Even thought there is more detail as to the amenities for the community center than for the parks, there has been no public process to design the facility. Among other things missing from the detail is how many basketball courts and what size the pool will be. The City must be informed of the operation and maintenance expenses anticipated to be incurred annually for the community center so that the expense related to the facility can be properly budgeted. While it has been presented that a developer would pay for the construction of the facility, no information has been provided about the operation and

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maintenance expenses of such a facility and who would be responsible for such ongoing expenses. The RP should include specific language as to what the developer’s financial responsibilities are with respect to both construction and ongoing maintenance so that any developer pro-forma submitted in response to the RP addresses the same. Under an appropriate redevelopment plan process, the residents, with the assistance of a professional landscape architect, not the developer, would decide what community benefits should be provided and where. Such a process would allow the community to decide if it is appropriate to locate a community center next to an electric transformer station and to provide design input on park facilities. The RP should contain language that specifies this design process and indicates that not only will the developer be required to pay for the design process the developer will be required to build the results of the design process. Developer proformas must reference this budget to be considered. Green Circuit (RP p 20)

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D.

The RP again uses the word “should” throughout the section describing the green circuit. Mandatory words are only occasionally used such as with respect to the location of the green circuit along the light rail and the requirement for trees to mask the tracks. In describing the width of the green circuit the RP states:

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CHANGE PG 20

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The green circuit should be no less than 25 feet in width at any point and should include a landscaped buffer of between 3 to 5 feet abutting the HBLR tracks and the building zone.” (RP p 20)

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WHILE THE WORD “SHOULD” HAS BEEN CHANGED TO “SHALL”, THE WIDTH OF THE CIRCUIT IS STILL UNLCEAR. THERE REMAINS A QUESTION AS TO WHETHER THE 3 FT BUFFER NEXT TO BUILDINGS AND THE 5’ BUFFER NEXT TO THE HBLR ARE INCUDED IN THE 25’ WIDTH OF THE CIRCUIT THUS MAKING THE PEDESTRIAN PATH ONLY 17 FT WIDE FOR PEDESTRIAN TRAFFIC. BUILDING LANDSCAPING SHOULD NOT ENCROACH ON THE 25 FT PUBLIC WAY. SINCE THE RP ONLY STATES THAT A “PORTION OF THE CIRCUIT SHALL BE HARDSCAPED”, THE ACTUAL WIDTH OF THE HARDSCAPED PORITION OF THE CIRCUIT IS NOT SPECIFIED AND MAY NOT BE WIDE ENOUGH FOR BICYCLING.

Benches and lighting should be provided along the green circuit (RP p 20) CHANGE PG 20

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“SHOULD” HAS BEEN CHANGED TO “SHALL” IN RESPONSE TO COMMENT. Again, significant City control is given up by the use of the word “should” in the above description of the width of the green circuit. Although the RP states that a “portion of the green circuit shall be hardscaped so as to allow to provide barrier free paths and to allow cyclists”, the RP fails to delineate the width of the hardscape. Thus because the width of the entire greenway is not a mandatory 25 feet (RP p 20), there is no guarantee that the hardscape will be a functional width for bicycling.

A.

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LAND USE, HEIGHT BULK AND PARKING (RP p. 23)

Building Open Space Ratio (RP p. 18 and 23)

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IV.

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From the rendering of the green circuit, it is unclear where the right of way for the light rail ends and the proposed path begins. For example, a portion of Block 92 (Lot 00002) and Block 97 (Lot 00001), which border the light rail and amount to 13,276 sq/ft of land, are owned by NJ Junction Railroad. It is unclear if this land is being included in PPS’s calculation of 4.4 acres of open space. In addition, all of Block 101 (8,034sq/ft) and Block 105, Lot 1.2 (9,391sq/ft), are shown on PPS’ rendering as part of this path. This property is owned exclusively by NJ Transit. The RP must include more clear and specific delineation of the land devoted specifically to the green circuit.

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According to the RP, the total building area is 8.65 acres and the total acreage of the site is 10.94 acres. If these numbers in the RP are accurate, the total non- building area is 2.29 acres. Accordingly, it appears that of the 4.4 acres of open space referenced in the RP, only 2.1 acres of space is not associated with the buildings. There are also various references to “building plaza areas” in the definition of building setbacks for all zones (RP- p 30). Thus the RP appears to include the building plaza setback areas in the calculation of the of 4.4 aces of open space. CHANGE PG 23 THE BUILDING ZONES LANGUAGE ( PG 23) HAS BEEN CHANGED TO STATE THAT PARKS AND OTHER OPEN SPACES ARE PERMITTED IN THE BUILDIONG ZONES. THIS CHANGE WAS NECESSITATED BY THE FACT THAT 1.8 ACRES OF OPEN SPACE WAS NOT ACCOUNTED FOR IN THE PARK AREAS BLOCKS 1 AND 2 IN THE ORIGINAL RP. ALL REFERENCES TO THE TOTAL ACREAGE OF THE BUILDING ZONES HAVE BEEN DELETED IN THE REVISED RP. B.

Parking (RP p 32)

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The RP states that if the non residential uses in Building Zones 1, 2 and 3 total less than 30,000 s/f, no parking is required. This amounts to an incentive to developers to reduce the non-residential uses in the development to the minimum (which is 25,000 s/f) in order to avoid producing parking. Thus the RP contains a disincentive to produce even the minimum level of non-residential use and assures that the development will be predominately residential contrary to the MP. The RP states that because Hoboken is a walkable City parking is not required for open space and recreation uses. Consideration should be given to the fact that the pool and community center may need parking to function appropriately. At the very least there should be a provision for some sort of family drop- off area. CHANGE P6 32

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A NEW PARAGRAPH HAS BEEN ADDED REGARDING CAR SHARING:

Non-Residential Yield (RP p26)

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In order to use garage space efficiently and make it convenient for residents to own fewer or no cars, development is encouraged to explore with car-sharing services such as Zipcar the possibility of dedicating one or more parking spaces for shared vehicles.

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Under the RP, a minimum of 25,000 square feet of residential development is to be built at 900 Monroe. Thus, the only location where non-residential development must occur will be at the southernmost portion of the entire development site. This small amount of non-residential use will unfortunately minimize street activity in this redevelopment zone and will not solve the problem already expressed by residents of the westside that retail services are sorely lacking. The RP should have a major increase in the required amount of commercial development. Notwithstanding the clear mandate for office space in the MP for this area, the RP does not even list office space as a secondary permitted use (RP p 24). In fact, the only use akin to office use is the reference to banking and financial institutions. There is no language or goal mentioned in the RP for the creation of jobs. D.

Green Space and Open Space Frontages (RP p 26)

During the public meeting, residents expressed much concern that the green circuit would amount to dead space behind the back of the development next to the light rail. The language of the RP does not to fully address the concern. The RP simply state that: Adjacent to the green circuit and other open spaces, primary and secondary uses are recommended, but not required along the first level of buildings� (RP p. 26)

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This non-mandatory language allows the developer to place parking next to the greenway and open space frontages. Again, the RP creates an incentive to do less not more. The greenway is also further compromised by the fact that the RP requires the off-street parking loading spaces to be located at the rear of the building away from street facing frontages and thus next to the greenway. Under this language it is most likely that the greenway predominantly abut parking garages. (RP p 24). E.

All Building Zone Heights (RP p. 28)

F.

Building Setbacks ( RP p 28)

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As discussed earlier in these comments, no where in the MP is there precedence or support for creating buildings the height of the Palisades. The RP calls for 120 feet for all three building zones (RP p 28) and thus simply duplicates the 900 Monroe zoning board approvals for all the building areas. Despite the MP’s call to protect the Palisades, the RP exempts rooftop appurtenances (18ft) and rooftop screenings from the height restrictions.

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The RP provides that “along the light rail tracks the building should be set back 40 feet”. (RP p 28) . This width of setback is insufficient for a greenway and the language in the RP does not even assure this width. In fact, it is possible under this language that there will be no greenway provided at all because of the use of the word “should” in this language. In effect, the developer is simply not required to comply with this setback and it can be changed by the developer and the planning board. In order to assure the public that a greenway will be built, much more detail needs to be provided in the RP mandating the exact location and widths of the greenway. CHANGE P6 28

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SHOULD CHANGED TO SHALL IN RESPONSE TO COMMENT

The language in the RP also creates the potential that the 40 foot width will be compromised and much narrower in reality. The RP states that the setback areas “shall be landscaped and may provide fencing, gates or walls not to exceed three feet in height along the front of the setback area”. (RP- pg28) This language has the potential to interfere with publically useable width of the greenway. Without more specificity with respect to the exact dimensions and location of the public greenway, the public’s use will be compromised. In addition, because the light rail right of way is not clearly delineated as part of the RP, it is entirely unclear whether any portion of 40 foot setback for the green circuit is possible. A greenway without mandates and left to the discretion of the developer will result in nothing more than a building setback. Without more detail, the greenway will function more as a shield for the lower floor residents from the noise and view of the light rail tracks than as a public greenway amenity. Perhaps an alternative should be explored to

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push the backdoor of the development closer to the tracks and create a more appealing green circuit in front of the buildings. G.

Screening (RP 36)

While there is language in the RP attempting to screen the green circuit, it is insufficient. The RP states that “large areas of blank, solid walls are prohibited along street-facing parking areas” (RP p 36). This language would not apply to parking areas facing the green circuit because the green circuit is not defined as a “street”. Thus, the benefit of the screening does not apply to the green circuit and the public’s concern over the “backdoor” feel of the green circuit is not addressed. CHANGE PG 36

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THE DELETION DOES NOT ADDRESS THE ISSUE. INSTEAD, THE PROHIBITION SHOULD HAVE BEEN EXPANDED TO MAKE SURE THAT BLANK WALLS ARE PROHITED ALONG BOTH STREETFACING AND GREEN CIRUIT- FACING PARKING AREAS.

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Moreover, there is a requirement that façade of any exposed parking structure shall include a three foot deep landscaped area to soften the appearance of the parking garage. (RP p.36) As indicated above, the City Council should determine how much useable greenway will remain if three feet is taken up by building landscaping. While landscaping is appropriate, there should also be mandatory width requirement preserved for the greenway. Most importantly, building landscaping should not be included in the 4.4 acres calculation of the acreage of open space.

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The RP also states that the screening of parking structures with active uses is one of the key elements of the RP (RP p 2). Nevertheless, this screening is not required “except along public streets” which means that the greenway will not benefit from active uses in front of the parking garages unless the greenway is defined in the RP as a street. Building Transparency (RP p 39)

The MP recommends avoiding the monolithic structure of the NW Zone yet the RP appears to allow that type of development. In the lower buildings, front stoops are only required every fifty feet. This is much less than the average stoop distance for Hoboken. In fact, the 50 foot stoop distance is also the same distance that the RP uses for retail entrances. (RP- p 39) It is unclear how this development will differ from the monolithic feel of NW Zone. More problematic is the effect on the green circuit. The RP states that, “ancillary entrances are encouraged along the green circuit and other park spaces and open spaces” (RP- p39). That means that they are not required. Without a mandate for entrances from the buildings to the green circuit, the buildings will not provide any interplay with the greenway. Thus, it is highly likely that the border to the green circuit

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will be parking lots walls with ornamental window holes. This is precisely what the public criticized in the plan when it was presented at the public meetings. I.

Materials (RP p 40)

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While the RP states that one of the redevelopment goals is “high quality building design” (RP p 10), the RP contains little in terms of building material mandates to assure this goal is met. One of the most important things that a redevelopment plan can do is allow the City to regulate building design detail. The RP creates a laundry list of possible materials for facades yet uses word such as “should” and “preferred” throughout the language undermining the effect. No mention is made of LEED in this section. No mention is made of the use of energy saving and recycled materials. Of particular concern is the fact that none of the language on the façade materials applies to the green circuit side of the building. This means that the materials used on the building side that abuts the public greenway are not mandated and could be of a lesser quality (RP- p 40)- Again the use of the word” should” when describing the ornamental grillwork, etc. means that the developer is not required to provide it. CHANGE PG 40

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CHANGED SHOULD TO SHALL IN ONE SENTENCE REGRARDING FASCADES. UNCLEAR WHY THE LANGUAGE WAS NOT CHANGED THROUGHOUT SECTION. Green Design and LEED Certification and Site Design (RP p 41)

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Hoboken has the opportunity in the westside to do what it has lost the opportunity to do in the last ten years of development. Hoboken can create a 21 century city that embodies the latest thinking and technology. If Hoboken simply sits back and allows a developer to design this project, Hoboken will get buildings based upon short term returns and cookie cutter architecture. Hoboken deserves better. Hoboken will not achieve better unless it demands better. We are fortunate. Hoboken has enormous real estate values even in a down market (location, location, location) and unique natural resources (Palisades and Hudson River). For Hoboken to diminish this value by allowing less then excellence in development unacceptable. If Hoboken allows a developer to determine the level of green building, the developer’s twelve month investment revenue- return mindset will deprive Hoboken of its 21 century city. The RP devotes only one page to a topic that is of extraordinary interest to the residents of Hoboken and has been mentioned repeatedly in the public meetings- green building. As was pointed out by the City’s planning consultant at the NJ Transit redevelopment area meeting, Hoboken developer’s can achieve a certain level LEED rating by simply building in the location of Hoboken. Thus, if Hoboken expects to achieve true LEED benefits for its residents, Hoboken must be very specific about LEED certification and requirements. The RP does not contain the specificity required. For example, the RP uses words such as LEED “qualified” rather than “certified” when referring to the green

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roofs. (RP p 41) It does not require LEED at all if the developer provides decks to residents on 25.1% of the rooftop and simply landscapes the rest. As with other sections of the RP, the language in RP contains an incentive to produce less. Much research and engineering exists with respect of green roofs. Just over the River and around the country initiatives are underway to green roof many buildings that are new and old. Hoboken must adopt specific regulation to achieve a standard that is more than just landscaping on a roof.

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While the RP states that site design shall “minimize environmental damage and reduce energy use” it provides no teeth for these lofty goals. (RP p 41) The RP simply defaults to existing NJDEP storm-water regulations which the developer would be required to comply with anyway. (RP p. 41) There is no language about building configuration to maximize solar energy. There is no requirement for recycling of storm water and building grey water. Hoboken needs to look no further than uptown for lessons in green development. CHANGE PG 41

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THE ROOFTOP LANGUAGE HAS BEEN CHANGED TO REFER MORE SPECIFICALLY TO LEEDS. I AM NO EXPERT ON THIS SO HAVE NO IDEA IF THIS IS GOOD LANGUAGE (PG 41 TOP). IT ALSO ADDS LEEDS FLOODING LANGUAGE WHICH AGAIN I AM NOT ABLE TO COMMENT ON. Signage (RP p 42)

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In order for the greenway and other park areas to be successful proper signage both in the open space areas and directional signage to the areas must be provided by the developer. The existence of the greenway if located in back of the buildings will not be readily apparent to most of the public. The RP makes no mention of this signage.

AFFORDABLE HOUSING (RP p.26)

The RP only requires 100 units of affordable housing. Since the RP does not specify or impose a limit on the total number of units allowed in the development, there is no way to determine how much of a deficit of affordable unit the RP creates. The casual reference in the RP to the rules of the Council on Affordable Housing is insufficient. Specific reference should be made to the ratio of units required by the regulation. The regulations provide that for every 5 units of market rate housing constructed, one affordable unit must be constructed. Reference should also be made to the fact that the developer shall be responsible for providing any increase or decrease in units that may be caused by further regulation until site plan approval is obtained. This issue will inevitably be raised by the developer in negotiations and thus the City’s position on the issue should be clear in the RP.

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As of June 8, 2008, the NJ Department of Community Affairs adopted final regulations for affordable housing. There is a requirement for the City to provide a growth share obligation regardless of how many units of affordable housing already exist in the City. The obligation is imposed based upon new units constructed which receive a Certificate of Occupancy as of January, 2004. The RP also lacks specifics requirements for bedroom count for the units. This effects not only the ability of the City to impose the bedroom counts for affordable housing but it also does not give the City control over the number of bedroom that the units will provide. If the City desires to provide more family units, there should be a specific requirement for the same in the RP.

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The RP states that affordable housing is required but fails to provide detail as to how it will be provided. There is no requirement in the plan that the affordable housing will be constructed at the expense of the developer. There is also no reference to whether the City will entertain a tax abatements and whether tax abatements would be limited to financing only the affordable units. The issue will most definitely be raised by the developer in the development agreement negotiations.

VI.

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Without a specific reference in the RP to the affordable housing obligation being undertaken by the developer, the City is at risk of falling short and having the overall, City-wide obligation imposed upon the taxpayers elsewhere in the City. Without an explicit reference to the number of affordable units in the redevelopment plan, developers responding to a request for proposals may not properly account for the obligation in their pro-formas. The RP should explicitly address the affordable housing obligation so that there is no question when the designated developer’s site plan is submitted to the Planning Board that the affordable housing obligation will be a condition of site plan approval. This will assure that the financial burden of producing the units will not fall to the taxpayers

OUTLINE OF PROPOSED ACTIONS (RP P 45) A.

New Construction (RP p 45)

The RP makes only a casual reference to the selection of a developer. This section should be much more specific with respect to the process and criteria for developer proposals and selection. If such a process is not included, the City risks site owners and developers proceeding to the planning and zoning board to seek approvals without being the designated developer. The RP is the fundamental document which defines the terms and conditions of project, future developer negotiations and the developer’s agreement. Thus the RP should be as specific as possible about the expectations regarding the developer qualifications and profromas.

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The RP states that the developer’s agreement will stipulate “precise nature and extent of the improvements to be made and their timing and phasing” (RP p45). While certainly those things must be in the agreement, it is also appropriate for the City to specify its expectations regarding the development in the RP. For example, if the City has a timeframe within which is desires the community benefits to be produced and the development to be completed, it should say so in the RP so as to alert the potential developers to address the same in their proposal.

B.

Other Actions (RP p 45-47)

C.

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This section refers to other actions that may be taken by the governing body to further goals of the plan. It lists infrastructure improvement, public utilities and environmental remediation without details. This language can be interpreted to mean that the City will undertake environmental remediation. At the very least, language should be clarified to indicate that the City does not intend to undertake any expense in investigating or remediating environmental issues in the redevelopment zone. Site Plan and Subdivision Review (RP p. 49)

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This section requires the submission of site plans for approval by the planning board prior to commencement of construction. No where in the RP is there a requirement that the developer present its development plan to the redevelopment agency. This is a serious omission in the RP which deprives the City Council of the control that is so fundamental to redevelopment. City Council approval of the final plan for the development must be a precondition to the developer submitting any plans to the planning board. CHANGE PG 47

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A CHANGE WAS MADE IN RESPONSE TO THE COMMENT TO REQUIRE CITY COUNCIL APPROVAL OF SITE PLAN PRIOR TO REVIEW AND APPROVAL BY THE PLANNING BOARD. FURTHER CONSIDERATION SHOULD BE GIVEN TO CLARIYING THAT ANY CHANGES IN SITE PLANS MADE AFTER INITIAL REVIEW BY THE CITY COUNCIL MUST COME BACK FOR REVIEW BY CITY COUNCIL TO DETERMINE IF SAID CHANGES COMPLY WITH THE REDEVELOPMENT AGREEMENT. This is critically important because it is the City Council, not the planning board, which executes the redeveloper agreement. The conditions of that agreement will not be known in detail by the Planning Board. The City Council must have the opportunity to assure itself that the benefits it bargained for are addressed in the development project. While the RP does require that developer to provide the City with “all application to federal, state and county agencies”, it does not require the City Council be provided with any local applications (RP p. 47-48). To maintain control, the City Council must be given an

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opportunity to thoroughly review the development plan prior to the developer proceeding to the planning board. D.

Deviation Requests (RP p.48)

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This section creates very board powers for the planning board to deviate from the RP. Essentially this language can be interpreted to allow the planning board to award any and all C variances to the project without any prior approval from the City Council. Thus increases in height and changes to bulk standards can be done without oversight by the City Council. This language combined with the very loose language about planning board authority on page 2 of the RP leaves very little control in the City Council. Under the RP language, only “changes to the uses in the Redevelopment Are shall be permitted by an amendment to the Redevelopment plan by the governing body� (RP p 49). Thus the City only has control over changes in land uses (D variances). This creates a very significant loophole for the developer. The RP should be changed to require all changes to the plan to be pre-approved by the City Council. Under no circumstances should the RP language deprive the City of the sole discretion to determine whether there will be variances.

Escrows (RP p.49)

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While the RP appropriately includes a provision regarding developer escrows, much more detail should be provided in the RP as to the types of requirements that the City will expect. This will assure that developer proposals and proforma reflect the overall cost and responsibilities and that developer are not surprised by the City demands. Such provisions should include:

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1. Developer selection process and provision to assure that all developer proposals provide detailed project pro-formas and consent to evaluation of developer financials by a financial consultant retained by the City; 2. Determination of whether the redevelopment area can be divided for development by more than one developer; 3. Specification of affordable housing unit count and the process to assure that construction of these units will proceed at a proportional pace as other units being built in the development; 4. Provisions specifying the nature and types of conditions that will be required in any redeveloper agreement, including financial due diligence, developer parent guarantees, a comprehensive project schedule, requirements and specifications for public amenities, assurance of funding for completing public amenities, school impact analysis and fees, project oversight process, how any environmental liability will be addressed, property assemblage, statutory covenants, transfer provisions, termination and penalty provisions for non-performance, and any other provisions the City deems necessary.

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F.

Infrastructure (RP p 49)

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The RP should be specific in requiring the developer to provide “underground utilities� and new road paving throughout the redevelopment. In connection with road improvement, the RP and Hoboken’s land use ordinances in general should address the ongoing problem of repaved road opening that collapse and pose a hazard to pedestrian, bicyclists and vehicles. Specifications should be adopted to assure that the fill used to refill any road opening is of the density and composition to prevent sinking and collapse. These specifications exist in other town and should be adopted by Hoboken to apply City-wide,

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Submitted by Leah Healey

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Below is a memo of comments on the August 2008  

Below is a memo of comments on the August 2008 Western Edge Redevelopment Plan(RP). I discussed this memo with the Council Subcommittee on S...

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