Carlstadt Moves To Block
Xanadu And Save Wetlands
By Joan Gralla, Reuters - 10/20/2004
New Jersey's $1.3 billion Xanadu project hit a new obstacle yesterday as Carlstadt, the
town where it will be built, said it asked the Army Corps of Engineers to issue a stop
Carlstadt also asked the Army Corps to refuse to grant the developers, Mills Corp. and
Mack-Cali Realty Corp., one of the last permits needed before full-scale construction can
Xanadu, an entertainment complex that includes
indoor skiing and a 30-foot chocolate waterfall, is to be built in the Meadowlands, just
west of New York City. The area is prized for its wetlands and protected species.
Almost from the start, Xanadu has faced lawsuits
filed by rival developers, and most recently, the local Sierra Club.
Carlstadt charged that the state Department of
Environmental Protection had failed to force the developers to provide the "meat
behind the application" -- the information the agency needed to conduct a thorough
Spokesmen for Xanadu, the Army Corps and the
Department of Environmental Protection were not immediately available.
Xanadu is to be built in the parking lot of the
Continental Airlines Arena, where the Nets and Devils now play.
Carlstadt said the New Jersey Sports and
Exposition Authority, which owns the site, should instead use the parking lots of nearby
Giant Stadium, where the Giants and Jets play.
That would save seven acres of wetlands that now
stand to be filled in, said Stuart Lieberman, a lawyer who represents Carlstadt.
"They (the state) never really did an
alternatives analysis," he added.
Other problems include Xanadu's impact on traffic
in an area already known for its congestion and poor air quality.
Xanadu's critics also note New Jersey has given
up its share in the project's profits for at least 15 years. That is partly because the
developer invested $127 million at another site. Xanadu has to earn at least that amount
before the state shares in the profits.
The developers will pay New Jersey $160 million,
according to Jim DeBosh, a spokesman for the state agency that owns the land. But the
state will give them $27 million to buy the first site, whose wetlands were considered too
valuable to develop.
The $160 million will be paid out in three
installments from Dec. 20, 2004, to April 20, 2005, DeBosh said.
But until 2006, the developers can get that money
refunded if a lawsuit derails the project, DeBosh said.
Posted by admin on Wednesday, October 20 @
04:54:26 PDT, Contributed by admin
Carlstadt urges engineers to deny permit
By Carolyn Feibel, The Record, Wednesday, October 20, 2004
Carlstadt officials have asked a federal agency
to order Xanadu's developers to stop construction on the $1.3 billion entertainment,
retail and office complex at the Continental Arena site.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is reviewing a
permit that would allow developer Meadowlands Mills/Mack-Cali Limited Partnership to
bulldoze seven acres of wetlands for Xanadu. Stuart Lieberman, the borough's special
counsel, has asked the corps to deem that permit incomplete and issue a stop-work order
until appropriate traffic and air-quality studies are finished.
The corps' permit is the final regulatory hurdle
for the developer, which is a partnership of the Mills Corp. and Mack-Cali Realty Corp.
"They really are the final agency who can do
the right thing in this case," Lieberman said of the corps. "They can say the
heck with the politicians, the heck with the deals, the heck with the money, there's no
way we are going to destroy the Meadowlands for a megamall."
Carlstadt officials have already sued the New
Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority to stop the project, which they fear will increase
traffic and pollution in the area.
Mills spokesman Bob Sommers said Carlstadt's
protests are too late. The public-comment period for the wetlands permit ended Sept. 7.
"This is kind of late in the game,"
Sommers said, adding that Mills was addressing environmental concerns raised at a public
hearing on Aug. 26 and by the corps.
Mills expects to answer the agency's questions
about the permit in about a week, he said.
Sommers said Carlstadt was collaborating with
Hartz Mountain Industries and the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club, which have also
filed lawsuits to stop Xanadu.
"The only thing that is missing are the
strings from Hartz and the Sierra Club moving the lawyer's hands across the page,"
The Sierra Club's executive director, Jeff
Tittel, denied working with Carlstadt or Hartz. Allen Magrini, a vice president for Hartz,
also denied helping Carlstadt with its legal challenge.
Lieberman said that Carlstadt plans to appeal the
state's decision to issue permits for Xanadu, probably by the end of this week.
"Our job is not to make it easy for
them," Mayor Will Roseman said. "I think there is widespread disapproval for not
just the project but the way it is being done in an underhanded way."
Roseman said he'd like to start a coalition with
other municipal officials who are concerned about Xanadu.
Source: The Record, October 20, 2004