Controversial Morris Canal Manor Steel Tech Jersey City
Morris Canal Manor Steel Tech Rendering

The Hudson County Sierra Club has come out in opposition to a controversial Bergen-Lafayette development.

The development, known as Morris Canal Park Manor, was green-lighted last week by the Jersey City Planning Board. In a six hour meeting the Board determined that the project was consistent with Jersey City’s master plan and, therefore, could move ahead. The matter had been remanded to the Board for the analysis after the Morris Canal Community Development Corporation sued to stop the project.

The property, currently occupied by the derelict “Steel Tech” facility, was originally slated to become part of adjacent Berry Lane Park. However, Jersey City passed on an opportunity to purchase the land and, instead, it was sold to the developer Skyline Development Group. In December of last year, the Jersey City Municipal Council amended the Morris Canal Redevelopment Plan to allow for the project, anchored by a 17-story apartment building with 361 units, to proceed.

On December 10, the Executive Committee of the local Sierra Club group voted unanimously to oppose the development.

“It’s a matter of Environmental Justice,” according to Dave “Ace” Case, former chair of Hudson County Sierra Club and a longtime Jersey City homeowner.  “The area was polluted with chromium for years before it was cleaned up.  Now it’s time to benefit the local community.”

“So many things about this plan violate basic principles of fairness and democracy,” adds Case.  “This neighborhood deserves better.”

Proponents of the plan, including outgoing Ward F Councilman Jermaine Robinson, have argued that the plan includes numerous “community benefits”:  a 22,000-square-foot, two-story recreation center with a gym, a rock climbing wall and a sauna as well as dance studios, music studios, computer labs and classrooms for STEM instruction. Boosters also highlighted eight planned “incubator” commercial working spaces for minority business enterprises.

Detractors, however, have cited the project’s 17 story height, in a neighborhood of mostly 1-2 family homes, its small amount of affordable housing and the fact that the land was originally slated to become part of adjacent Berry Lane Park.

Aaron is a writer, musician and lawyer. Aaron attended Berklee College of Music and the State University of New York at Purchase. Aaron served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador. He received a J.D....