HACKENSACK — Developers looking to build in the city would get more guidance under a streamlined process that is scheduled for Planning Board review.

Nancy Kist, an attorney at DeCotiis, Fitzpatrick and Cole who worked on the new procedures, said the changes are intended to save developers both time and money.

The proposed changes include:

  • A committee of city representatives who would review developers’ pitches before they are formally presented to the zoning or planning boards.
  • Forms and checklists to help developers through the application process.
  • A revamped fee structure that city officials said would be more aligned with costs in surrounding communities.

She could not immediately say what the new fees would be, but she said most of them would be lower.

Developers could also save money by identifying problems with their applications before they begin the costly hearing process, she said.

The changes are part of a city plan designed to spark a downtown building boom and return the city to its heyday as Bergen County’s retail and cultural center.

“I am confident these new measures will be well received by our Planning Board and potential investors in our city,” Hackensack Mayor Mike Melfi said.

A city press release outlining the proposal did not say when the Planning Board would review it, but the board’s next scheduled meeting is Sept. 12.

Main Street

The city approved a 63-page Downtown Rehabilitation Plan in June, easing zoning, parking and other restrictions in a 39 city block-area known as the city’s Main Street corridor.

The plan aims to bring requirements for new developers into line with the contemporary taste for downtown areas where people can live, work, shop and find entertainment, mainly by removing restrictions on residential developments with ground floor retail and office space.

City officials envision buildings as high as 14 stories, sidewalk restaurants and carefully maintained storefronts.

Changes in the furute would also include improved parking, repairs to the city’s antiquated sewer system and the re-introduction of two-way traffic on Main Street.


September 5, 2012 News


By S.P. Sullivan

HACKENSACK — After the approval of an ambitious downtown rehabilitation plan, the city is hammering out new rules that would promote mixed-use retail and residential development along Main Street.
The city has drafted a step-by-step checklist for developers that spells out the uses and materials the planning board will approve and adjusted its fee structure to be more competitive with other cities.

Mayor Mike Melfi said in a statement that the new rules “cut the red tape for developers” along the
Main Street corridor. DMR Architects, the authors of the city’s rehabilitation plan, advised officials to spell out what kinds of development would be permissible downtown to better prepare them for the application process.

The plan also creates a “Pre-Application Review Committee” to review proposed projects at the request of developers before the formal application process.

City Manager Stephen Lo Iacono said the plan is part of the city’s “aggressive efforts to court new developers into our community.”

The city council sent the changes to the planning board earlier this week.


September 1, 2012 News