In 2011, the City of Hoboken adopted a resolution delineating "an area in need of rehabilitation." Neumann Leathers, a business located within the area, challenged the City's compliance with the law in their delineation of the area. On September 23, 2014, the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court published their decision in the case, ruling in favor of Neumann Leathers.
On the day of the court's publication of the decision, I provided a copy to the City Attorney, Mayor, and Deputy Mayor. I questioned how this decision may impact actions that the City of Hackensack had already taken to name certain areas of town as areas in need of redevelopment/rehabilitation and how the decision may impact current, and future, development projects. Since September 23rd, the only reply I have received was a thank you for sharing the information from the Deputy Mayor.
Tonight, I presented my same question to the City Attorney, Joe Morris. I went on to ask if the City Attorney had reviewed the decision with the Planning and Zoning Board attorneys and discussed past projects and revisions to plans for current and future projects to ensure compliance with the law. Morris declined to comment as it seems the appellate decision is already the subject of a complaint filed this week by local Hackensack property owners challenging the legality of the redevelopment of 150-170 Main Street.
Frank Callahan, Danny Callahan, and Michael Monaghan are local business and property owners with properties at 50 Main Street, 62-64 Main Street, and 59-61 Moore Street. They acquired certain properties in 1999 and spent considerable time and money performing environmental remediation. Subsequently, they secured lease agreements with a number of tenants and submitted plans for approvals of development. The city has continued to deny their plans and has been embattled in litigation with the property owners for at least six years. Last year, the property owners successfully challenged the city's designation of 163.8 acres in the downtown area an area in need of redevelopment. The city is currently appealing that decision.
It is alleged that the continued litigation is a result of animosity between the property owners and the Zisa family. Parties with knowledge of the property history have alleged that bad blood was created by Jack and Ken Zisa with the property owners over former Mayor Jack Zisa's personal disagreement with the owner's intended construction of a second floor at 50 Main Street more than ten years ago.
Now six years into protracted litigation with countless legal fees spent, this new lawsuit (which potentially presents serious implications for the redevelopment of the city), seems to provide Monaghan and the Callahan's with the upper hand in forcing a settlement of their six (YES, SIX) outstanding lawsuits with the city. The current suit, if not swiftly disposed of, may very well halt redevelopment and spook potential developers interested in investing in downtown Hackensack.
The Scoop is currently reviewing and analyzing the legal fees spent in the six cases as information obtained points to potential glaring irregularities in the billing practices as the number of special litigation counsels rises.