The battle to protect the Palisades officially moved to the New Jersey capital last week when the State’s Senate Environment and Energy Committee heard testimony regarding a bill that would limit development over 35 feet in the Hudson River Palisades viewshed.
Co-sponsored by State Senators Bob Smith -- the Chairman of the Committee -- and Sen. Christopher “Kip” Bateman, S.2025 was passed by the Committee in a 3-2 vote after several hours of testimony, both in favor and opposed.
In addition to NRDC, several other groups in the Protect the Palisades coalition spoke about the irreparable harm LG Electronics’ planned 143-foot headquarters would do to this treasured American landmark and the need for permanent protections along the Palisades corridor. These groups included the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, Scenic Hudson, the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference and the New Jersey Sierra Club.
The U.S. Green Building Council, which administers the highly coveted LEED green building designation, testified that there was no need for LG to construct a tall building to achieve LEED status and that the corporation should reconsider its plan. The Green Building Council did not take a position for or against the bill.
In my testimony on behalf of NRDC, I made three main points:
- First, NRDC strongly supports this important legislation to safeguard one of the few remaining stretches of natural beauty in the nation’s densest metropolitan region.
- Second, in the fight to protect the Palisades, we do not need to make a choice between jobs and long-term park protection – we can have both.
- And third, the Legislature has full authority to put in place new zoning and development protections to protect this state and national treasure, and to ensure that the state’s existing municipal land use law is being properly implemented.
Predictably, LG -- via John Taylor, their VP of Public Affairs for North America, and one of the company’s lawyer's -- testified against the legislation. They trotted out many of the same arguments on why its Palisades-destroying design was good for the New Jersey economy, but sidestepped answering Senator Smith on why they wouldn’t take the opportunity to create the same number of jobs and office space with a low-rise design.
Senator Smith also posed some tough questions about how LG has responded to information requests from the Environment Committee over its design.
We commend Senator Smith and the Committee for advancing this important bill, and look forward to working with our New Jersey allies to enact it into law.