Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher on Stevens rezoning special council meeting tonight

Official release:




Special Council Meeting Wednesday Night
The City Council will be suspending its vote on 2nd reading for the prior version of the ordinance.  A revised ordinance for 1st reading will be introduced.  Additionally, Stevens will also be there presenting on its Strategic Plan, its anticipated new dorm and student center, and the zoning changes.  
Since the prior meeting, the City Council has worked with the Administration and Stevens to address the concerns that many residents raised once they became aware after reading my email of the scale of the changes being proposed in the prior version of the University Zone ordinance.  Among others, these included the overall height and density added to the “Edge zone” and the additional density on the north side of the campus, adjacent to the residential areas and Elysian Park.  
The new proposed ordinance that will be introduced tomorrow (7/25), in its current form, has been changed as follows:
  • The height of future buildings on the “Edge” other than the new Student Center (225’), will reduce from 200 feet to 160 feet.  
  • A new subzone will be added for the area to the north that abuts Castle Point Terrace and Elysian Park and this area will now limit structures to not higher than 13’ and to limit uses to accessory uses, athletic structures and surface parking.
Additionally, although we will not be addressing at the Special Meeting, we are hoping to also have the 1st reading of an ordinance codifying the Master Plan Re-Exam recommendations for the Waterfront Area adjacent to Stevens at the 8/1 meeting.  Effectively the re-exam recommended that the entire area be limited to recreational uses only, except for maritime educational purposes.  Codifying this sooner than later is also in response to feedback we received from residents expressing concerns about locking in plans for our waterfront in conjunction with the Stevens upzoning.
I would encourage everyone to tune in to the City Council meeting to see and hear about Stevens’ strategic plan.  I know that I have been critical about the up-zoning, and to be honest, I am still not yet comfortable with the added density in the Edge zone without visibility on what will be planned for that area and the potential impact to Hoboken.  But I am a huge fan of Stevens and having them in our town.  And my concerns mainly stemmed from the lack of any meaningful public inclusion in the process to better understand their plans, and the proposed changes in zoning.  Unfortunately, a typical Hoboken practice (that we continue to work to change).  Fortunately, being fixed with Stevens presentation tomorrow night!  Tune in and I know you will appreciate their presence in our community as much as I do!
Finally, last night Mayor Bhalla sent us the City Council the attached memo underscoring his support for the revised ordinance that will be introduced tomorrow night.   This is really a big deal for Hoboken in many ways.  It is the first major zoning change we have made in a while and represents the first codification of the recommendations from the Master Plan Re-Exam that was just recently approved by our Planning Board in June.   
There are still some conversations being had about further changes, but if any, they would be minor.  I welcome any thoughts that you may have.  And I want all of you to know that I am hugely appreciative of all of your feedback you have provided so far and ALL of it (whether 100% supportive or with some suggested changes) has contributed to the changes that have been proposed in this new version of the ordinance.  
As always, feel free to reach out if you want to discuss further by email or by phone 201/208-1674.
TiffanieFisher
Hoboken City Council, 2nd Ward
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