ONLY ON CLIFFVIEW PILOT! Cliffview dwellers who say a planned high-rise reaching up from River Road will block their spectacular views of Manhattan won’t get their day in court.
Despite having paid a premium for the privilege, the desire of a group of townhouse owners already along the cliff to keep their views “does not amount to a constitutionally-protected property interest” entitling them to a hearing, a state appeals panel ruled.
The residents already already “participated extensively” in a Department of Environmental Protection review through “thousands of pages” of reports and in testimony to the agency, the judges said.
“To require such formal [administrative] hearings routinely in every instance where a local resident raises some objection to a proposed State permit could produce enormous delays,” Appellate Division Judges Jack Sabatino, Edwin Stern and Richard Newman ruled.
“Such hearings could easily consume substantial public and private resources. They are also prone to convert an agency’s administrative review process into a veritable litigation battleground,” they wrote.
The judge said state lawmakers “unmistakably intended to prevent the processing of permit applications by State agencies from being bogged down by time-consuming and costly formal hearings” in the Office of Administrative Law.
Riverview Development LLC filed an application with the DEP five years ago for permission to build three high-rise condominium towers in North Bergen that would rise 95 feet from the hillside, blocking views of residents living on Bulls Ferry Road, just beneath the Stonehenge building.
Fighting the project is the Bergen Ridge Homeowners Association, which represents the owners of 34 townhouses on the cliffs. Each townhouse has a clear view of the Manhattan skyline.
A month after a permit was issued in October 2006, Bergen Ridge appealed and asked for a hearing before an Administrative Law judge.
The appeals panel said no.
“We are mindful that residents of Bergen Ridge with views of the waterfront may well have paid a premium to purchase units with more desirable vistas of the skyline and waterfront,” they said.
However, they said such results are “part and parcel of the social compact. They result from the unavoidable interrelatedness of living in a world surrounded by other persons and by other things.”
Bergen Ridge unfairly asked the court to undertake “intractable issues of line-drawing,” the judges determined.
“To trigger a hearing right, is it enough that a unit owner’s view of the New York City skyline and the Hudson River is only partially blocked? Blocked from a unit’s bay window in the family room but not from a side window in the dining room? Locked as to lower Manhattan but not as to Midtown? Blocked for a person under six feet tall but not as to a taller person? The possible gradations are endless.”
There hasn’t been word yet whether the residents are considering appealing to the state Supreme Court.
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