WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — A group of New York lawmakers is throwing its support behind a New Jersey state senator’s proposal to prohibit any development over 35 feet across the Hudson River from Manhattan.
New Jersey state Sen. Bob Smith introduced the legislation in May 2014 in response to LG Electronics’ plan to build an eight-story building that opponents argued would mar iconic views of the natural area from New York City. The decision to allow the development was made by a local zoning board for the town of Englewood Cliffs.
After pressure from a coalition of conservation groups and elected officials from both sides of the Hudson, LG agreed in June 2015 to lower the building to between three and five stories.
Smith’s legislation, which would cover the Palisades Cliffs between Fort Lee and the New York border, is intended to prevent future fights over such development.
“Development has occurred in recent years that has altered the beauty of the area,” the bill states. “The Legislature therefore determines it necessary and in the best interest of the State to preserve and enhance the Hudson River Palisades as a prime natural resource of importance.”
In a letter addressed to Smith, New York state Sens. Adriano Espaillat, Jeff Klein, Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Brad Hoylman expressed support for the legislation.
The letter mentioned the successful campaign to get LG to lower the height of its new building.
“This was a great achievement,” the letter said. “But the episode was a reminder that intrusive development in the Palisades Park is possible.”
It also references the creation of Palisades Interstate Park Commission in 1900. The commission, which is still in operation today, was formed by New Jersey Governor Foster Voorheers and New York Governor Theodore Roosevelt in response to the destruction of the Palisades by quarry workers at the turn of the century.
“As elected officials representing the shores of the Hudson we will continue to stand with you to carry on the great tradition of New York and New Jersey elected officials banning together to protect the Palisades Park,” the letter said.
The bill was referred to the New Jersey State Senate’s Community and Urban Affairs Committee in June 2014, but has not seen any action since then.
The New York legislatures decided to express support for the bill in light of recent developments with the LG site.
"We successfully helped stop the planned LG tower from piercing the tree line,” said Espaillat, whose district borders the Hudson River from the Lincoln Tunnel to Spuyten Duyvil Creek. “But it is time for a permanent solution that will ensure our children, and their children, can enjoy the Palisades for generations to come."
Smith did not immediately respond to a request for comment.