Photo Credit: Patch.com
New York Waterway has been trying to bypass Hoboken’s planning and zoning boards in an effort to build (what many have been describing as a controversial) ferry maintenance and refueling facility. Their efforts have come to a stop, at least for now, thanks to Hudson County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Jablonski.
Judge Jablonski dismissed the ferry company’s lawsuit which requested that the court order not interfere with marine operations at the Union Dry Dock site. The site is the longtime home to the Union Dry Dock and Repair Co. which New York Waterway purchased in 2017 for $11.5 million.
The Mayor of Hoboken, Ravi Bhalla, is happy about the court decision. He said in a statement, "It affirms that no one is above the law, and the rules apply equally to everyone including New York Waterway.” The mayor has plans for the site which includes acquiring the property of Frank Sinatra Drive as a public, open space, saying the ruling "puts us one step closer to making this a reality.”
This is pretty big news, at least for the locals. The dismissal of NY Waterway’s complaint is the latest in a series of nasty fights. Prior to the current disagreement, Hoboken police had stopped operations for minor work being done at the site saying that it was the object of a lawsuit by the city.
NY Waterways attorney Anthony Bocchi argued that local permits are not needed for the offshore work and that the company has state and federal permits to replace piles that the industrial site and bring in two barges, build ramps and gangways.
Close your eyes and pretend you are watching a movie. Heck, forget all of that, this drama is real… Bocchi called the officers’ actions gestapo-like, drawing an emphatic response from Lt. John Petrosino, president of the Hoboken Police Superior Officers Association.
“It’s abhorrent that New York Waterway’s high-paid attorney would equate the Hoboken Police Department as the ‘Gestapo,’" Petrosino said in a statement. “We demand an immediate and unequivocal apology from New York Waterway.”
Bhalla and the city are doing all they can to prevent permits and building. Apparently, Bhalla once said the site would become a ferry facility “over my dead body.” Bocchi said that an electrical permit has not been approved by the city in 17 months and that Bhalla himself posted a stop work order at the location on one occasion.
Let’s see how this turns out since NY Waterway conceded that it will need local permits for onshore portions of the project. As of now, phase one only requires parking and structures similar to what is already there.
Christopher Miller, a Hoboken attorney, noted in court that the city has a right to review NY Waterway’s proposed use for the location. He also said that planning and zoning board review of the project “would not be a process for stopping the industrial project.” He also said, “An order by the judge allowing the company to bypass local approvals would be premature and that only after permits are sought could the court say if the city had acted arbitrarily, capriciously or unfairly.”
In the end, Judge Jablonski ruled that it was premature to say filing for permits would be futile for NY Waterway. He also found that the project’s offshore and onshore portions are “inextricably intertwined” and that NY Waterway’s federal and state permits both require the company to acquire any local permits needed.
NY Waterway CEO, Arthur Imperatore Sr., said “The court has spoken,” said after Monday morning’s hearing. “We will comply.”
But we know it’s…To Be Continued!