Ignoring warnings from their own experts, Hudson County planners last night gave the green light to a strip mall that will be carved into the side of the North Bergen cliffs.
Environmentalists and residents sparred with local officials for nearly five hours in Jersey City before the county planning board approved the blueprint for a Bank of America, Starbucks and Walgreens on River Road.
The planning board attached a condition to last night’s approval: The developer must produce engineering reports that include, among other things, exactly how much dirt is going to be removed.
Despite reassurances from Paramus-based Avak Properties LLC, many fear the development could cause mudslides — or worse.
They point to Church Hill Estates — barely a mile north of the proposed site — which already has had several mudslides that have flooded area businesses below.
North Bergen Mayor Nick Sacco nonetheless pushed hard for the new development, combating opponents with a taxpayer-funded campaign of mailers sent out this week touting the project.The mayor says the development — across River Road from Palisades General Hospital — could produce a ratable that pays the township $200,000 a year.
But residents atop the Palisades fear the development could undermine the structural integrity of Boulevard East. Hudson County’s Division of Planning already has cited mud slides and flooding elsewhere in the area.
Beneath it all are questions about how the entire project got started in the first place. North Bergen sold part of the property at a public auction, and suddenly earth-moving machines were on the site, knocking down buildings and clearing trees.
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