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PUTTING GREED FIRST

 
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 03, 2008 12:36 pm    Post subject: PUTTING GREED FIRST Reply with quote

Wikipedia - "In June of 1983, the Palisades were designated a National Natural Landmark by the National Parks Service"

New York TIMES
March 21, 2008
Editorial
Saving a Natural Treasure
For thousands of years, the Palisades have soared above the west banks of the Hudson River as one of the natural wonders of the East. It’s hard to believe that New Jersey officials are allowing builders to chip away wide sections of these rocky cliffs to gain more room for condominium developments that would last, at most, a tiny fraction of that time.

In recent years, observers on the New York side of the Hudson have watched in dismay as one new high-rise building after another obscured more and more of the Palisades. But what most people have not noticed is that builders have been cutting into the cliffs and removing huge sections of rock.

Directly across from the Upper West Side of Manhattan, one contractor recently said his workers had cut out significant portions of a cliff’s face to accommodate luxury town houses at the northeastern tip of North Bergen. As they complete cutting each section of the rocky face, workers hang galvanized steel netting on what remains of the cliff to protect the homes, cars and pedestrians below.

From just south of the George Washington Bridge to well north of the New York-New Jersey border, the high cliffs of the Palisades are protected by a two-state compact that established the Palisades Interstate Park Commission. But the area to the south is a virtual free-fire zone for developers. This stretch of the Palisades is regulated only loosely by a handful of towns in Hudson and Bergen Counties. Once a developer gets a building permit, he can pretty much do whatever he wants.

The current project, just a couple of miles south of the George Washington Bridge, is not the first time a builder has chipped away portions of the Palisades. Years ago, a wide section of cliff was removed to make way for a high-rise tower to the south. Since that time, workers have sliced away small sections of the cliffs to make way for a corner of building here and a few extra parking spaces there.

But Church Hill Estates is one of the most ambitious cuts into the Palisades in several years. Environmentalists and many nearby residents are alarmed that as almost all the land along the narrow waterfront gets built on, developers will be tempted to carve out larger sections of the Palisades to make way for their projects.

There is some hope that a measure passed last year in the New Jersey Legislature may offer limited protection for steep cliffs like the Palisades, but developments approved before that time will not be affected and the impact for the future is uncertain.

Because of a lack of independent studies of the specific construction sites, geologists say it is impossible to know how the work will affect the overall stability of the Palisades. Except for a major mudslide that occurred at one development during a heavy rainstorm several years ago, the damage has been confined to rocks and boulders that have been pried loose.

But the possibility of a major rock slide or land collapse is not the only issue. The Palisades are an environmental treasure — just like the Palisades along the Pacific Ocean. As such, they deserve far more protection than they are getting. It’s time that the State of New Jersey and even the federal government step in — before this entire section of the Palisades is degraded beyond recognition.
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