Citing a disruption of the “natural beauty of the Palisades,” regional administrator Judith A. Enck told the building’s administrator LG Electronics USA in a letter that “this view is so important that the adverse impacts of construction of high-rise building cannot be condoned.”
The Palisades Park’s Route 9W provides one of the safest and longest bike routes for cyclists, and is reputedly the second most traveled bike route in the United States. It is not clear if additional development along Route 9W will affect cyclists, though in the area of LG’s development, the road is already heavily congested with motorists, lacks any kind of safe shoulder for cyclists, and is the most unsafe section of the 7-mile roadway adjacent to the Palisades.
At the behest of the New Jersey State Federation of Women’s Clubs, the Rockefeller family donated money to buy large parcels of land on the Palisades in the 1930’s allowing it to become a pristine park without development and other construction. The preservation from development of the seven-mile stretch from the George Washington Bridge to state line was part of the deal with Rockefeller, whose estate on the east side of the Hudson River enjoyed an protected view–ostensibly for eternity.
According to a report by the NY Times Saturday four former New Jersey governors, Brendan T. Byrne, Thomas H. Keane, James J. Florio, and Christine Todd Whitman, wrote a letter to the company objecting to the development because it would rise several stories above the tree line.
“The dramatic formation that inspired painters of the Hudson River School of American Artists in the 19th century has been protected for over 100 years through the efforts of citizens and elected officials,” wrote the governors. “We are concerned that this tower would not only interrupt the historic, natural vista enjoyed by millions, but would also set a precedent for greater building heights stretching northward along those iconic cliffs.”
Those objections have not prevented developers in the town of Fort Lee, which is situated at the entrance to the George Washington Bridge, right behind the entrance to the Palisades Park, from building two massive 48-story, reflective glass buildings in a development that is expected to be completed in the next 4 years.
Tucker Development Corporation, the builder of Hudson Lights — said the western portion of a 16-acre site adjacent to the George Washington Bridge will be comprehensively redeveloped and will feature 165,000 square feet of ground-level retail space marketed by Robert K. Futterman & Associates, up to 477 residential units and options for a 175-room hotel, an office building and approximately 1,200 parking spaces.
No doubt, those buildings fall within the purview–and view–of the Palisades Park which starts some 10 blocks south of the development, but their planned construction has either escaped the inspection of preservationists, or was forgiven its status
because of the two large developments that were built along Hudson Terrace more than 10 years ago just at the mouth of the Palisades Park. Those two consecutive developments add weight and experience to the notion expressed by the governors that one project will lead to others, thereby opening the gates to unwanted development.
The E.P.A.’s action means that it is withdrawing from its memorandum of understanding with LG Electronics, a Korean company, that had established a working relationship to “address environmental and energy management issues.”
“This unusual decision reflects the real threat LG’s proposed building poses to the integrity of the Palisades Park,: said Mark A. Izeman, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council, which also objected to the project’s height.
The proposed building’s height is to be 18 stories in an area zoned for a maximum of 35 feet. Lawsuits have been filed against LG by Scenic Hudson, the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, and the New Jersey Federation of Women’s Clubs, and attempts at negotiation so far have failed, reported the NY Times. “We are confident that our case will prevail,” said a spokesperson for LG.