Developer, Edgewater officials feud over former Hess site

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EDGEWATER -

A fight is brewing between a developer and town officials over what to do with the former 18-acre Hess site in Edgewater.

The location is prime waterfront real estate in the town. 

Developer and owner, 615 River Road Partners LLC, wants to turn the site into high-rises, retail space and bus service to Manhattan. The project would apparently bring in more than $12 million of taxes a year.  But Edgewater's mayor says that the town don't need that money.

"We have one of the lowest taxes in Bergen County so we're not really looking for tax relief,” says Mayor Michael McPartland.

The mayor says that he wants to use the site for the town’s Department of Public Works and a large park that includes an area for kids with special needs.

"Being near the water, being nice and tranquil, those types of children need that type of thing,” McPartland says.

The mayor also says that the property is not zoned for residential space.

But a spokesperson for the developer says that Edgewater has made exceptions before.

"The borough has handed out variances with regard to the height and density and then, only after the fact, have gone back to re-zone those properties,” says Irina Elgart with Fox Rothschild.

Elgart says that the developer’s isn’t the only property seeking a variance relief, but that they are the only property that isn’t receiving the relief.

The Edgewater Council appropriated $25 million to begin an eminent domain process over the property. It is expected to be a fiery court battle.

"We're prepared to defend our rights to build on this property,” Elgart says.

Mayor McPartland says that he is also ready to fight.

“I’m getting nothing but letters of support for the idea, so I think the people are behind us,” he says.

The developer is set to go before the zoning board on Sept. 12.

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