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Sierra Club Sues Xanadu
Xanadu Overview
[Link] to original proposals

New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority [NJSEA]

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Sierra Club Sues Over Xanadu

The New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club joined another club on Wednesday - the one whose members have each sued the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority over the $1.3 billion Xanadu project.

Jeff Tittel, the executive director of the Sierra Club chapter, said his group's suit in the Appellate Division of state Superior Court seeks to halt construction on Xanadu until sufficient traffic, parking, air quality and wetlands analyses are performed. The New Jersey Public Interest Research Group, the Tri-State Transportation Campaign and Environmental Defense joined in the suit.

Secaucus-based Hartz Mountain Industries has been in litigation for 18 months over the selection of Mills/Mack-Cali's plan to build a 5 million-square-foot entertainment, retail, hotel and office complex on the Continental Arena site. The town of Carlstadt filed its own suit against the project early this month. Both suits protest the amount of retail at Xanadu, among other features.

"Xanadu is a nightmare for the residents of northern New Jersey, and it'll be the taxpayers who have to shoulder the costs of the traffic, air pollution and water degradation that this project will cause," Tittel said. "We're not saying they can't build it, but we are saying that the state has to do things right."

The Sierra Club suit further stoked bitterness between Tittel and sports authority President George Zoffinger and Bill Sheehan, who is the Hackensack Riverkeeper and chairman of the Meadowlands Conservation Trust.

Zoffinger accused Tittel of filing the suit as a publicity stunt.

"We care about the environment just as much as Jeff Tittel does," Zoffinger said. "This is an attempt by him to get publicity, after not being involved at all in the process. He's also getting funded by Hartz on this issue."

The latter charge outraged Tittel.

"He's a liar," Tittel said. "First of all, we don't take any corporate money, so that's a despicable charge. He should be fired. I haven't even talked to Hartz."

Hartz spokesman Ron Simoncini backed Tittel.

"We don't have one dime in that lawsuit," he said. "They filed it independently."

Zoffinger also contended that by filing the suit, Tittel was endangering the preservation of the Empire Tract, a 587-acre piece of land that is to be donated to the state as part of the Xanadu deal. The sports authority paid $26.8 million last week to acquire the site and turn it over to Sheehan's Meadowlands Conservation Trust.

According to Zoffinger, if Mills Corp. was denied a chance to develop on the Continental Arena site, it might be able to receive a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers to build a megamall on the Empire Tract. Mills would be able to show there were no alternative sites for development, Zoffinger said.

But Tittel responded that the Army Corps "would never grant that permit," because of such problems as insufficient roads around the site and the amount of wetlands that would have to be filled.

"Zoffinger is in bed with Mills, and he doesn't care what happens to the taxpayers," Tittel said. "This is the biggest pay-to-play project the state has ever seen."

Sheehan said that after several years of battling to stop Mills from developing the Empire Tract, he thought last week's tentative sale of the land had ended that saga.

"I'm agitated because this potentially could skew the whole deal," said Sheehan, who has drawn fire from Tittel over his alliance with Mills. "A couple of years ago, I figured that Mills could never get a permit for the Empire Tract. But with this [Bush] administration in Washington, which will be there at least until January, they could get a permit from the corps in no time."

Tittel said that the Environmental Protection Agency has criticized the project for the lack of traffic and air quality studies.

"The Bush administration is being more environmentally friendly here than the McGreevey administration," Tittel said.

Mills spokesman Bob Sommer said that Tittel was off base.

"The process that they complain about was remarkably open, with all issues fairly aired," Sommer said. "The Sierra Club wants a process that goes their way all the time, and if they don't get their way, they sue."

Tittel predicted an addition of 100,000 cars per day near the Xanadu site once the project is completed, which he said would lead to gridlock. Zoffinger countered that infrastructure and transportation projects - funded by the developers, the Port Authority, and state and federal sources - would prevent that from happening.

Source:  www.SierraActivist.org
Posted by admin on Monday, October 18 @ 11:37:11 PDT, Contributed by admin
Story By John Brennan, Bergen Record - 10/14/2004

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Group sues to block Meadowlands complex

NEWARK -- An environmental group filed suit yesterday seeking to block development of the massive $1.3 billion Xanadu entertainment and office complex in the Meadowlands, arguing the project's adverse effects have not been adequately studied.

The Sierra Club's New Jersey chapter filed suit in state appellate court in Trenton against the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission and the state's Sports and Exposition Authority, claiming they wrongfully approved the 4.9 million-square-foot complex in East Rutherford.

"Xanadu is a nightmare for the residents of northern New Jersey, and it'll be the taxpayers who have to shoulder the costs of the traffic, air pollution and water degradation that this project will cause," said Jeff Tittel, the Sierra Club's state director. "That's what happens when you build a mall first and look at the impacts later."

The lawsuit seeks to halt work on the project until the developer, Mills/Mack Cali Corp., or the sports authority provides for better public comment and more complete studies of traffic, parking management and air quality, as well as proof of the need for filling in wetlands areas.

Carl Goldberg, chairman of the sports authority, defended the project's approval.

"A significant majority of environmental groups in the region are supportive not only of Xanadu but also the way the authority handled the matter," he said. "The Sierra Club's position on this is a minority position and has little technical merit."

copyright 2004 The Associated Press
Source: Published in the Asbury Park Press 10/14/04  www.app.com
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Sierra Club sues to block Xanadu development

By Wayne Parry, Associated Press, 10/13/2004, 4:32 p.m. ET

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — An environmental group filed suit Wednesday seeking to block development of the massive $1.3 billion Xanadu entertainment and office complex in the Meadowlands, arguing the project's adverse effects have not been adequately studied.

The Sierra Club's New Jersey chapter filed suit in state appellate court in Trenton against the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission and the state's Sports and Exposition Authority, claiming they wrongfully approved the 4.9 million-square-foot complex in East Rutherford.

"Xanadu is a nightmare for the residents of northern New Jersey, and it'll be the taxpayers who have to shoulder the costs of the traffic, air pollution and water degradation that this project will cause," said Jeff Tittel, the Sierra Club's state director. "That's what happens when you build a mall first and look at the impacts later."

The lawsuit seeks to halt work on the project until the developer, Mills/Mack Cali Corp., or the sports authority provides for better public comment and more complete studies of traffic, parking management and air quality, as well as proof of the need for filling in wetlands areas.

Carl Goldberg, chairman of the sports authority, defended the project's approval.

"A significant majority of environmental groups in the region are supportive not only of Xanadu but also the way the authority handled the matter," he said. "The Sierra Club's position on this is a minority position and has little technical merit."

A Meadowlands Commission spokesman said many of the items requested by the Sierra Club were already addressed in the approval process although hearing officers at the time said they wanted better information on traffic and parking plans.

Five "districts" — sports, entertainment, fashion, education and food & home — are to make up the initial sports and entertainment phase of the complex.

The various districts are to include such things as an indoor ski slope, a wind tunnel for mock sky diving, a nightclub and a chocolate waterfall.

A second phase is to include four office towers and a 520-room hotel.

The project still needs permits from the Army Corps of Engineers to fill several acres of wetlands.

Lawsuits also are pending by Carlstadt Borough and Hartz Mountain Industries of Secaucus, a competitor with Mills for the site's development rights.

Xanadu is to rise around the Continental Airlines Arena, which is to remain as a venue for concerts and other events. Its main tenants, the New Jersey Nets and New Jersey Devils, are seeking to move to planned arenas in 2007: the NBA's Nets to Brooklyn, N.Y., and the NHL's Devils to Newark.

Source: www.nj.com & www.wnbc.com

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Sierra Club sues to block complex in Meadowlands
It contends that the harmful effects of the massive Xanadu project have not been assessed adequately.

By Wayne Parry, Associated Press

NEWARK, N.J. - An environmental group filed suit yesterday to block development of the massive $1.3 billion Xanadu entertainment and office complex in the Meadowlands.

The Sierra Club's New Jersey chapter filed the suit in state appellate court in Trenton against the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission and the state's Sports and Exposition Authority. The Sierra Club contends that the project's adverse effects have not been adequately studied and that the 4.9 million-square-foot complex in East Rutherford was wrongfully approved.

Gov. McGreevey called Xanadu "a vision of our future" last week when state officials signed a lease that will have the developers pay the sports authority $160 million over 15 years. It could open in 2007.

"Xanadu is a nightmare for the residents of northern New Jersey, and it'll be the taxpayers who have to shoulder the costs of the traffic, air pollution and water degradation that this project will cause," said Jeff Tittel, the Sierra Club's state director. "That's what happens when you build a mall first and look at the impacts later."

The lawsuit seeks to halt work on the project until the developer, Mills/Mack Cali Corp., or the sports authority provides for better public comment and more complete studies of traffic, parking management and air quality, as well as proof of the need for filling in wetlands areas.

Carl Goldberg, chairman of the sports authority, defended the project's approval.

"A significant majority of environmental groups in the region are supportive not only of Xanadu but also the way the authority handled the matter," he said. "The Sierra Club's position on this is a minority position and has little technical merit."

A Meadowlands Commission spokesman said that many of the items requested by the Sierra Club had been addressed during the approval process, although hearing officers at the time said they wanted better information on traffic and parking plans.

Five "districts" - sports, entertainment, fashion, education, and food and home - are to make up the initial sports and entertainment phase of the complex.

The various districts are to include such things as an indoor ski slope, a wind tunnel for mock sky diving, a nightclub and a chocolate waterfall.

A second phase is to include four office towers and a 520-room hotel.

The project still needs permits from the Army Corps of Engineers to fill several acres of wetlands.

Source:  Philadelphia Inquirer -- www.philly.com   Posted on Thu, Oct. 14, 2004
CBS Ch. 3, KYW-TV Philadelphia www.kyw.com

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Xanadu Project's Traffic Study Gets A Wider Scope


A traffic study for the proposed Xanadu project at the Meadowlands will be expanded, the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority announced at its monthly board meeting Wednesday.

Sports authority officials also said they had made progress on proposed rail service at the sports complex.

The decision to expand the traffic study comes out of public hearings the sports authority has been holding this week with Mills/Mack-Cali, a partnership the sports authority chose to build Xanadu, a $1.3 billion redevelopment project at the Continental Arena site.

Those hearings on Xanadu's environmental effects resulted in requests that the sports authority ask Mills/Mack-Cali to include peak morning commuting hours on Routes 3 and 46, among other arteries, in the traffic study, said Carl Goldberg, chairman of the sports authority's board.

The study also will be expanded to include the effect of rail service on the proposed sports, entertainment, and retail complex.

"We understand the need to expand our approach," he said.

The developers have drawn criticism for limiting the scope of their traffic study to weekdays at 4:30 to 5:30 p.m., 7:15 to 8:15 p.m. on days of big events at the arena, and 3:15 to 4:15 p.m. Saturdays.

Members of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a consortium of planners and environmental groups concerned with traffic and air quality issues, criticized the original report for failing to include additional travel times.

Damien Newton, a spokesman for the group, said adding morning hours to the study is an important development, but does not address all of the group's concerns.

"We believe they are still defying common sense with the evening rush hours they are looking at," Newton said.

Bob Sommer, a spokesman for Mills/Mack-Cali, said state regulations do not require the review of morning commute hours, but that the company would willingly comply to go "above and beyond the letter and spirit of the regulation."

"We will work with our partner [the sports authority] to continue to do what we have been doing, which is consistently go beyond what is required to make this project the best project for New Jersey," Sommer said.

George Zoffinger, president of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, added that the board passed a pair of resolutions Wednesday that will "begin the process to bring rail to the Meadowlands."

"People can see that this is real," Zoffinger said. "This will have a tremendous effect on Routes 3 and 46 and be remarkably helpful to Xanadu, Giants Stadium, the raceway, and regional transportation issues."

Source: www.sierraactivist.org
Posted by admin on Friday, April 30 @ 02:25:17 PDT, Contributed by admin
Story By Yung Kim, Bergen Record - 4/29/2004
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