New Steel Tech Plan
New Steel Tech Plan

Plaintiffs in a lawsuit brought to stop a controversial 17-story development in Bergen-Lafayette have submitted a settlement proposal to the Jersey City Planning Board.

In a letter today, plaintiffs Morris Canal Redevelopment Area Community Development Corporation, Inc. (“MCRACDC”) and its executive director, June Jones, proposed an alternative plan developed by former Jersey City Senior Planner Jeffrey Wenger that would “reconcile the community’s desires regarding height and scale of the residential project with the redeveloper’s desired density.”

In 2020, the redeveloper, Skyline Development Group, unveiled a plan for the 361 unit mixed use project on the former site of a factory next to Berry Lane Park now commonly referred to as “Steel Tech.”  Called Morris Canal Manor, the project was to include five percent “affordable” units; a 22,000-square-foot building housing a basketball court and spaces for other yet-to-be-determined recreational uses; and eight commercial “incubators” for minority-owned startup businesses.

From the beginning, opponents raised multiple objections to the project. Chief among them were the project’s size in a neighborhood of one and two family homes and the inclusion of only five percent affordable housing.

In 2021, the council adopted an Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance (IZO) which mandates that new apartment projects allot at least ten percent of their units as affordable.

Opponents also object to using the land for luxury apartments on a site previously designated to become part of Berry Lane Park.

Today’s proposal would allow the developer to build up to 368 residential units in a building eight stories tall. To achieve this, the building’s footprint and density would be increased. “369 units is equivalent to 109 units per acre, which is just over three times (3x) the permitted residential density of the…area surrounding Berry Lane Park.”

The lawsuit, which was filed in April, is asking the court to repeal an ordinance passed by the City Council in March amending the Morris Canal Redevelopment Plan to allow for project to move ahead as originally proposed by the redeveloper.

Jones is asking that the amendments be put on the Planning Board’s August 23 agenda.

Aaron Morrill

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....