TRENTON, NJ-The New Jersey Department of Environmental protection has revised the parking regulations for the urban communities lining the state’s Hudson River waterfront through Hudson and Bergen counties. The major change is to exempt those communities from the 2-to-1 ratio of parking spaces per residential unit previously required of all coastal development, oceanfront and riverfront alike.

The regs are part of DEP’s Coastal Zone Management Rules, and the issues are largely demographic. In the less-urban oceanfront counties, the 2-to-1 ratio makes sense because the car is king. But a byproduct is to put some de facto limits on development along the environmentally fragile oceanfront, because if you don’t have the room to supply the parking, you can’t do the project.

For the urbanized communities along the Hudson River, where land is more at a premium and residents are more dependent upon mass transit, the result can be stifling. “For the past year, we’ve been encouraging the DEP to re-examine its position,” explains Joseph Barry, chairman of the Applied Cos., a development firm based in Hoboken, NJ. He’s also co-chairman of the Hudson River Property Owners and Conservators Association, a local advocacy group. “It’s been our belief that the 2-to-1 requirement was not only unnecessary but also counter-productive. One effect has been to discourage mass transit, which is being developed to service the waterfront area.

“We’re certainly pleased that they’ve finally decided to consider the characteristics of these communities and how they differ from the oceanfront,” Barry continues.

Under the new requirement, the 2-to-1 ratio would apply only to communities bordering the Atlantic Ocean, and would no longer apply to nursing home or assisted-living facilities in any waterfront location, river or ocean.

“Until now, new projects have been restricted by contradicting regulations like the 2-to-1 ratio,” adds Carl Goldberg of Roseland Property Co., HRPOCA’s other co-chairman. “Those regulations have failed to recognize the differences between the oceanfront and the riverfront. With these changes, the DEP has taken the first step in distinguishing between the two coastal areas.

While commercial development has been solid along the Hudson riverfront, most observers expect the changes to unleash a new wave of projects that would not have been doable, especially residential, and especially in locales that combine economic distress with a shortage of land.

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