In 1524, explorer Giovanni da Verrazano remarked that the hills rising along what is now the Hudson County waterfront looked like a "fence of stakes" - and named them the Palisades.
Nearly 500 years later, North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco took steps to preserve these hills along the Hudson River for future generations.
"Over time, development has been cutting into the cliffs," he said after the May 28 commissioners' meeting.
"There are also nets that prevent rocks from falling. While safety is paramount, there may be other ways to do this without nets."
He concluded, "Cutting into the cliffs is not positive, and the netting is not attractive. I recognize the need for development. Developers have a right, but it's a balancing act. The board needs to be cognizant of aesthetics."
Therefore, the North Bergen Board of Commissioners voted on a resolution to advise the city's Planning Board to require responsible development in the Palisades. The resolution stipulates that the Planning Board require testimony from the developers to determine the impact of proposed development on the Palisades so that the hills are "adequately protected and not visually impaired."
Part of master plan for zoning
The Planning Board is currently conducting a re-examination of the city's master plan, and the River Road/Palisades Cliff area is being studied as part of that review.
A master plan is a document that outlines how the city should be zoned and developed over a long period of time, such as the next 20 years.
"There's been some negativity surrounding the development of the Palisades, with chipping and defacing," said Township Administrator Chris Pianese at the meeting. "We want to make sure they thoroughly examine the impact of whatever land is left to be developed along the cliff face. With sound development, there should be minimal impact, and the beauty of the Palisades can be preserved."
"As part of the r-examination of the Master Plan, the board should take a real hard look at that area," Pianese added, "and give us a report that gives us the best approach."
The resolution stipulates that the Planning Board require testimony to determine the impact of proposed development on the Palisades to ensure that the hills are "adequately protected and not visually impaired." "The mayor is driving this focus on the Palisades," Pianese added.
Hybrid gets the high sign
In other news from the meeting, the commissioners also resolved that the township set aside funding from the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission Municipal Assistance Program in the amount of $20,000 toward the purchase of a hybrid vehicle.
Such vehicles are considered environmentally friendly.
"The New Jersey Meadowlands Commission is offering a grant to pursue that type of purchase," Pianese said. "It would be a four-by-four type of vehicle, a small SUV, that uses a battery at certain times while being driven." He said that Ford has an Escape model that's a hybrid.
The vehicle would be assigned to the construction code department, according to Pianese. "At this point, everyone realizes this is the direction we want to go in down the road," he said. "We need to test the model to see how it drives in this area with hills and stop-and-go traffic."
"The grant is a done deal," Pianese added, though the actual buying of the vehicle will come up in a future. He said the township "may have to match what the balance is. If it's $25,000, the township will come up with $5,000."
Street-improvement contract awarded
Among other business, the commissioners resolved to award the Department of Public Works improvements to various streets to Joseph M. Zanzari, Inc. of Hackensack.
"The total cost of the improvements will be $411,060," said Pianese.
"The state gives North Bergen an allocation to improve various streets," he added. "Every year we prioritize which streets need to be done, and we try to get as far as we can with the state allocation."
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Here are the streets that will be resurfaced:
* Newkirk Avenue from 83rd Street to 90th Street
* 63rd Street from Kennedy Blvd. to Durham Avenue
* 76th Street from Kennedy Blvd. to Tonnelle Avenue
* 89th Street from Kennedy Blvd. to Durham Avenue
* 45th Street from Grand Avenue to Bergen Turnpike
* 53rd Street from Grand Avenue to Tonnelle Avenue
* 73rd Street from Grand Avenue to Tonnelle Avenue
* 74th Street from Grand Avenue to Tonnelle Avenue
* 83rd Street from Grand Avenue to Tonnelle Avenue
* Grand Avenue from 88th Street to 90th Street
* Durham Avenue from 63rd Street to 64th Street
* Smith Avenue from 63rd Street to 64th Street