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2013-0718 letter to Hoboken Reporter

An invitation to disaster:  Building on piers along the Hudson River Waterfront

Mayor Dawn Zimmer supported by the Hoboken City Council deserves kudos for diplomatically getting  Hoboken out of inclusion in a very troubling state legislative bill that permits development on existing piers in HIGH HAZARD AREAS located in the Special Urban Areas of the state (Briefs 6/29/2013).  Good for Hoboken but what about the other 7 communities along the Hudson waterfront and those special urban areas along the shore?  Due to Hoboken’s action, the bill was amended so that, if adopted as law, other municipal councils could pass legislation to opt out of it.  What a waste of legislative work, time and expense to keep this disastrous bill in play!   The better action right now is to contact Governor Christie and urge him to veto this bill.

A3933-S2680, according to one of its main sponsors, was intended  to help a “handful” of developers who have plans “ready-to-go” on "5 or 6" piers in these special areas but who now cannot apply for a permit to build due to the designation by FEMA and the state of these waterfronts as super high risk areas known as V Zones.  The senator asks for “fairness” for these developers even though these V Zones are in the 100 year flood plain and subject to high velocity wave action of 3 feet or more.  Along the Hudson during Sandy, waves rose 4 to 5 feet in most places and even up to 14 feet.  Most of us saw the damage done to piers and the Hudson River Walkway.  Why would any community want to allow residential development on such a pier?  Riva Point, built on a pier in Weehawken, was so swamped during Sandy that a heart attack victim could only be rescued by quick thinking police who found a pontoon boat to take the victim to the hospital (the patient survived).

Oddly enough, the bill does not mention any of this - the 5 or 6 piers or the handful of developers or the need for fairness.  There seemed to be no understanding by the members of an Assembly committee, that held a hearing on the bill, that they were aware of any of this, even that such piers would never be eligible for FEMA flood insurance.   Hoboken Assemblyman Ruben Ramos is a member of that committee and was the only one to vote no.  Thank you, Assemblyman.  The term “existing pier” is not defined in the bill so could someone decide that the stubs of pilings that at one time supported an entire pier constitute an existing pier, or an old map that shows a pier now long gone?   This bill is an invitation to place thousands of possible residents in harm’s way.

Please join us in urging the Governor to veto Bill S2680-A3933, a faulty and dangerous bill.  Go to www.state.nj.us/governor/contact or phone 609-292-6001.

Please help.

Helen Manogue, President
Hudson River Waterfront Conservancy of NJ, Inc.


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