A developer’s plan to build along the Hudson River is meeting with pushback from a local non-profit.

This week The Hudson River Waterfront Conservancy filed objections with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to oppose the state’s issuing a “waterfront development permit” for the construction of four residential skyscrapers jutting out into the Hudson River at the equivalent of Sixth Street. The LeFrak Organization, which built Jersey City’s Newport development, had filed the application. Currently, the peninsula site is fenced-off and vacant.

The Conservancy’s objections include the lack of a public walkway around the complete perimeter of the peninsula and the proposed reopening of a dormant helipad adjacent to the walkway that it claims would interfere with the public’s use and enjoyment of the walkway. 

Ron Klempner, vice president of HRWC said the lack of a public walkway would be “inconsistent with the public’s ability to gain access to and enjoy the waterfront contrary to the public’s rights under the State’s long-standing Public Trust Doctrine, which has been recognized by the courts throughout New Jersey.” 

According to LeFrak’s designs, the “helispot” would be located at the eastern-most end of the peninsula, preventing pedestrians using it from accessing the waterfront all along the peninsula’s eastern tip, said Klempner. This, he said, would violate the state’s Coastal Zone Management rules.

“If they (LeFrak) are doing any development within 500’ of the waterfront (even laying down a shovelful of dirt) the CZM rules apply to the whole property.  This includes building the Public Walkway, which they are required to do around the entire Waterfront of the peninsula.  The helipad interferes with the public walkway, which requires a 16’ paved area within a 30’ Easement.  The CZM rules also prohibit uses which create impacts on nearby areas, specifically referencing “noise and fumes.”

The Lefrak Organization views the two issues differently. According to company spokesman Jeremy Farrell, HRWC fails “to understand that the helistop is an existing facility and has been serving Jersey City and the region for decades … most importantly, the Newport helistop will not allow tourist traffic, and so the concerns raised by HRWC should be allayed.”

The proposed operator of the helistop, Blare Air Mobility, Inc., will, however, “begin a pilot program for charter flights and explore the viability” of offering service between the helispot and area airports and heliports, according to Blade press materials.

The materials did not address noise from these flights.

Deputy Editor Elizabeth Morrill has worked in business, not for profit fundraising and as a freelance copy editor. She holds degrees in American studies and education from Yale and Harvard.