Zoning board criticized for building approval during November storm

The board approved plans for a 60-unit building on Kennedy Boulevard.

Jersey City’s zoning board is under fire for approving plans for a six-story, 60-unit residential building in the Heights on a night that the city was at a standstill because of a snowstorm.

The board’s unanimous decision came on Nov. 15, when conditions on streets in North Jersey were so bad it took hours for motorists to crawl miles. One city worker said she spent more than six hours on a bus making the six-mile drive from City Hall to the Country Village section.

Residents opposed to the project told The Jersey Journal the public’s right to speak out on the plans were curtailed because of how difficult it was to get to City Hall that night. The building is slated for the former location of a farmers market at 3437 Kennedy Blvd., in a district zoned for one- and two-family homes.

Robert Boudreau, of South Street, said he was one of about 15 neighbors who made it to the meeting, but “without a doubt” many more would have appeared if the roads had been better. Boudreau got to City Hall after taking the light rail from Hoboken.

“That place would have been rocking if it had been a better day,” he said.

In addition to citywide gridlock, City Hall was partially covered in police caution tape that night because of fallen tree branches.

The developers, John and Maryann LLC, were seeking variances for use, height, parking aisle width and curb cut width. The board’s approval could be memorialized by the board as early as Thursday, its next regular meeting.

Zoning board members were told they could not adjourn the meeting absent a state of emergency or City Hall closing, according to one source with knowledge of the behind-the-scenes discussions.

Ronald H. Shaljian, the developers’ lawyer, said they will continue to work with the community to respond to their concerns.

“Since we brought our professionals in from as far as south Jersey, we proceeded as scheduled,” he told The Jersey Journal.

Councilman Michael Yun, who represents the area, said he supports the project but does not support the zoning board’s decision to hold the meeting despite the conditions outside.

“That’s not fair to the people,” Yun said.

Terrence T. McDonald may be reached at tmcdonald@jjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @terrencemcd. Find The Jersey Journal on Facebook.

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