NJ Transit Development Bill Update

12/2/2009 Update:

If you oppose – sign the online petition

In case you haven’t received the notice to sign the online petition to oppose the building of hi-rise towers at the south border of Hoboken (Senator Sarlo’s Bill S-2972), then head over to:


11/13/2009 Update:

Sarlo Bill on track for lame duck session

Mason launches statewide opposition effort

The election is over, but the effort to give NJ Transit sweeping powers to develop “whatever it wants” on the Hoboken Rail Yards continues in Trenton.

As Hoboken411 reported first in October, powerful State Senator Paul Sarlo put his bill on a fast track to approval before Christmas after Dawn Zimmer misrepresented her ability to “halt” it’s passage. Sarlo responded to Zimmer’s press release by reconfirming his support for the bill, and NJTransit’s right to do as it pleases with its land. The defeat of Governor Jon Corzine shifts political power away from Hoboken and to the suburbs where voters would be fine with 100-story towers in Hoboken if it means revenue generated from the development would cut their taxes.


NJTLandGrab.com launched to oppose bill

Councilwoman Beth Mason called Zimmer out for her “naïve and misleading statements” about the Sarlo bill last month during the campaign. Now she is following up on her original statement with a statewide effort to rally opposition to the bill, since it would affect every municipality NJTransit owns land in. In a press release today, Mason announced she launched a website – njtlandgrab.com – that will lay out the case against the legislation planned for the lame duck session starting November 23rd. The site urges visitors to sign a petition voicing their opposition:

“This legislation would allow NJ Transit designated developers to build anything they want on NJT properties across New Jersey, and it also opens the door for taking adjacent land through eminent domain.” said Mason. “This bill is an early Christmas present for huge real estate and development interests and it must be stopped. We are building a statewide coalition to stand up for the little guy and preserve our quality of life and local land use authority for our communities.”

– Councilwoman Beth Mason

Two weeks ago Mason sent letters to every State Legislator and Mayors in municipalities with NJ Transit properties. She says she has already received several enthusiastic responses and pledges of support.


11/13/2009 Update, Continued…

NY Daily News does poor job covering the story

hoboken-dawn-zimmer-headshotMeanwhile, the NY Daily News website published a misleading story that reads like it was written by Zimmer’s “Confidential Aide” Dan Bryan. None of the statements made by Zimmer appear to have been checked or challenged by the reporter and no mention is made of Senator Paul Sarlo’s strong statement of support for the NJ Transit bill after Zimmer’s press announcement that she “halted” it. The story is a one-sided puff piece for Zimmer by the same writer who coincidentally also did a one-sided puff piece on Zimmer running mate Ravi Bhalla.

Writer Karen Angel did not quote Sen. Sarlo or any other city council members or NJ Transit representatives to balance out the story, which seems to be entirely sourced from Zimmer and her taxpayer-paid Public Relations team. Read the real story behind the bill after the jump.

Anyone know what the Angel/Zimmer/Bhalla connection is? What are your thoughts on the latest developments in the NJ Transit development situation? Will Ian Sacs continue to personally promote the NJTransit/FXFowle plan for the Hoboken rail yards even after being hired by Zimmer to be the new Parking and Transportation Director? Feel free to comment below.

10/7/2009 Update:

Sarlo to Zimmer: You haven’t “Halted” anything!

Acting Mayor/Council President Dawn Zimmer’s pre-election press release declaring she supposedly “won a halt to state legislation which would have given NJ Transit Autonomy over Hoboken Terminal Plans” has backfired. The bill’s sponsor, State Senator Paul Sarlo has sent out his own press release declaring that not only is he moving ahead with the bill, it’s being fast-tracked for approval in November. Burn!

“Senator Sarlo, today, reiterated his strong support for Senate Bill 2972 which would authorize New Jersey Transit to study, plan and implement transit oriented economic development projects on New Jersey Transit facilities. Sarlo, the bill’s sponsor, intends to introduce an amendment to the legislation which would provide for local input and protections when the Legislature reconvenes in November 2009.”


The likelihood that Sarlo’s provisions for “local input and protections” would be enough to overcome the massive additional powers the existing wording of the bill gives to NJ Transit is slim and none. Sarlo’s bill would give NJTransit sweeping powers to develop non-transit related facilities. They can put a provision for local input in the bill but it doesn’t mean it will have teeth. As Hoboken411 told you when this news first broke (see below) Senator Sarlo works for one of the largest heavy construction contractors in the state and it is big proponent of development. Sarlo continues:

“As a Senator, I am a firm believer that government must promote sensible economic development projects which will create jobs, spur economic recovery and provide new ratables to local governments,” said Sarlo (D-Wood-Ridge). “However, as a Mayor of a small community that is host to two New Jersey Transit facilities, I want to ensure that municipalities have some control over the economic development projects occurring within their borders.”

Notice the wording here. Sarlo says he wants to ensure “some control” for municipalities. Under the present law NJ Transit can’t build what they want without Hoboken’s approval. If it went to court under the current law Hoboken would probably win. Sarlo’s bill would change “total control” of the ability for Hoboken to plan Hoboken to “some control” when it comes to any NJ Transit-owned property.

“Sarlo explained that he introduced the legislation in a draft form that omitted the provision for local input prior to the Legislature’s summer recess on June 30, 2009. He always intended to amend the bill during the Legislature’s fall session later this year. He also stated that he looks forward to working on the amendment with his fellow legislators as well as with local officials who would be impacted by this legislation.

“I discussed this legislation with both Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer and Hoboken Councilwoman Beth Mason in separate discussions,” said Sarlo. “I made it clear to both of them that I fully support this legislation, that I intend to amend it – not withdraw it and that I expect it to pass and be signed into law by the end of this year.”

The upshot of this: you already knew the way Zimmer was spinning this was not the truth of the matter, and it seems in her zeal to make “snappy headlines” for campaign literature, she’s had the opposite effect of what she claimed she intended. Dawn Zimmer hasn’t “halted” the NJTransit project. In fact, she might have just put it on a faster track by mishandling the situation for pre-election gain.

Read the original 411 story and comments below…


City Hall Press Release Du Jour Explained

Has an evil plan to build the tallest building in New Jersey been thwarted, or is it just pre-election hype?

That’s the question following another hyperbolic press release from the Dawn Zimmer for Mayor Campaign Office of the Acting Mayor. Zimmer’s statement would leave you with the impression that there is imminent state legislation to allow NJ Transit to build its “Emerald City” plan for Hoboken. Upon further review: not quite.

The Bill, The Resolution, and The Press Release

This all started when someone with a sharp eye clued Zimmer in on an obscure bill pending review in the State Senate. This bill was sponsored by Senator Paul Sarlo, who represents portions of Bergen, Essex and Passaic counties, as well as his employers at Bishop-Sanzari Heavy Construction (one of the largest contracting firms in New Jersey). Sarlo is development friendly, well connected, and as you read back in February, contributed to Peter Cammarano and Michael Schaffer’s “Voice for All Hoboken” Political Action Committee.

Sen. Sarlo’s bill (S-2972) would add language to the charter of NJ Transit that would enhance the agency’s ability to develop non-transit oriented projects on it’s property (See clause y on page 6 with the underlined portions. These were the proposed additions to the existing law.) The concern is this language could weaken Hoboken’s case against Transit should they just go ahead and start building skyscrapers without city approval.

City Council Takes Action

A few weeks ago the City Council unanimously adopted a resolution to oppose the bill even though Corporation Counsel Steven Kleinman explained it wasn’t even scheduled to be heard in a Senate Committee in this year’s session, and the State Assembly was not considering a similar bill, so the point would be moot for the foreseeable future anyway. So, with no action on S-2972 anywhere near imminent, and apparently no interest to take on the issue in the lower house, what’s an Acting Mayor to do?

Scaring the public, exploiting the issue for political gain

During the meeting where the resolution was heard, Acting Mayor/Council President Dawn Zimmer made it clear with her tone anyone who opposed her largely meaningless resolution would face political consequences, and even members of the public and council opposed to Zimmer agreed that it wouldn’t hurt to pass the resolution.

Now Zimmer’s taxpayer-paid Confidential Aide Dan Bryan has sent out a press release that makes it out like she “single-handedly stopped the skyscrapers.” The release is alarmist, inaccurate and completely ignores the role of the City Council in opposing this bill. It also reads more like a campaign press release than a Mayoral one, which is no surprise considering the many sightings of Zimmer Campaign Manager Sam Briggs at City Hall these days.

The misleading headline on the release is:


As I just explained, that’s misleading at best and untrue at worst. The legislation was not moving forward, so how then could Zimmer have “halted” it? Also, have you noticed how Zimmer’s PR team has stopped referring her by her legal title of “Acting Mayor”? Hmmm….

(Acting Mayor Scare Tactics, continued…)

The Corzine Connection

The release goes on to say that at Zimmer’s request, Governor Jon Corzine arranged a meeting with Senator Sarlo. Cammarano was one of many Corzine allies arrested in the recent FBI sting operation. Corzine is trailing Chris Christie in polls ahead of next month’s election. With Cammarano gone, he wants support from Zimmer, even as some of his old allies are lining up behind former Judge Kimberly Glatt. The release goes on to say”


“Senator Paul Sarlo (D-36), the sponsor of this legislation, S-2972 has agreed that the bill will not go forward unless and until Hoboken is satisfied with its content. “I thank Governor Corzine and Senator Sarlo for recognizing that Hoboken residents must have a say in decisions that will have a profound impact on the shape of our City’s future,” Mayor Zimmer said.“I believe it is important that the concerns of Hoboken be addressed,” Senator Sarlo said. “I pledge to consult with Mayor Zimmer and ensure that she is satisfied before proceeding with legislation in this area.”

Hoboken411 strives to bring you the story behind the story, and the hidden subtext of our public official’s actions, no matter who they are or whether they claim the mantle of “change” or “reform”. So here’s the bottom line: it’s good that the Acting Mayor and City Council have stepped up to have their voices be heard on the critical issue of the proposed NJ Transit redevelopment, but it’s not just one person doing it.

The press release from the Dawn Zimmer for Mayor Campaign Office of the Acting Mayor is designed to leave you with the impression that imminent action to harm Hoboken has been “heroically averted” by one woman, and that’s simply not the case.

Watch for this particular turn of events to be further exploited in future campaign literature.

Leave a Reply

91 Comments on "NJ Transit Development Bill Update"

6 years 11 days ago

NJ Transit’s Board approved retail leases for spaces in three major stations in Hoboken, Secaucus and Trenton, which Weinstein called a “solid business decision that allows use to generate commercial revenue.”

Two of the leases at Hoboken and Secaucus charge a base rent, plus a mix of rent and a percent of gross sales, whichever figure is greater. The Trenton lease is a straight rental.

I wonder what new type of business will be in Hoboken….

From the APP

6 years 7 months ago

hobokenj, from what i’ve understood so far they would not pay taxes to hoboken or jersey city which is what makes this situation even worse. they would add to the overbuilding, flooding, etc but not give back to either city in any way.

6 years 7 months ago

If this was to go through. Would these buildings resedential or commercial pay tax to Hoboken? Are there Pilots associated or since NJT is nonprofit do the building on its property pay tax?

6 years 7 months ago
Why does Sarlo want this so badly? I’d follow the money. Which companies might be awarded contracts at this site if this goes forward? Who contributed to his getting elected? Currently, Transit can only use it’s condemnation and other powers for transit-related projects, which is why Sarlo’s bill would be so damaging as it would allow them to wedge condos and offices on any of their holdings (with total disregard for local zoning), making them a defacto developer. It’s important to remember that ALL of us as NJ citizens own the land that Transit has stewardship over – not them.… Read more »
6 years 7 months ago
In addition to be a state senator, Sarlo also works for the mega contractor, Sanzari. In response to dunotar who said: Why does Sarlo want this so badly? I’d follow the money. Which companies might be awarded contracts at this site if this goes forward? Who contributed to his getting elected? Currently, Transit can only use it’s condemnation and other powers for transit-related projects, which is why Sarlo’s bill would be so damaging as it would allow them to wedge condos and offices on any of their holdings (with total disregard for local zoning), making them a defacto developer. It’s… Read more »
6 years 7 months ago

Perhaps instead of ourselves talking about the politics behind this, we, including Mason and Zimmer get together to help make this better for our town. Who cares who says or does what when in the end it is just us normal people that suffer?

6 years 7 months ago
I don’t know if we’ll ever see that. No one will save face and reach out to a former opponent to work on this together. And if one were to ask the other to join, the person asked to follow the leader would come up with some cynical response. Its a shame, really. The bitterness and hatred in this town is so strong, that even when faced with a common foe, they can’t put it aside and work for the greater good. Of course, I hope that my pessimism isn’t shared by our elected officials and they DO bury the… Read more »