A group of concerned citizens and several environmental groups have banded together to form an organization known as the Protect the Palisades group in an effort to stop LG Electronics USA from building a new headquarters tower in an area of New Jersey called the Palisades. The Palisades is a large wooded area that spans parts of Northern New Jersey and Southern New York, and it borders on the picturesque Hudson River. It is famed for its wild and natural beauty – and it is a U.S. National Natural Landmark.
Now, the Palisades group has raised the stakes in its fight to stop LG, which has already broken ground on the disputed project…
The Palisades is a rugged, wooded, and in places, wild area that includes dramatic cliffs that border on the shore of the Hudson River near the George Washington Bridge. Running along the top of the area is the Palisades Interstate Parkway, a highway that includes scenic turnouts for tourists and locals to pull off and enjoy the dramatic scene from high atop the cliffs across the Hudson river to Manhattan.
Northern New Jersey’s Bergen County is also home to a significant number of companies in the consumer electronics industry…including LG. LG has begun building a new headquarters building in Englewood Cliffs, NJ…a town north of the GW Bridge and well within the Palisades area. Because of the natural beauty of the area, there is a ban on constructing any building taller than 35 ft.
Tower of contention…
However, LG’s plans called for a tower section soaring 143 ft. The company sought and received – too easily the environmentalists say – a variance to build the towering structure. LG’s tower would be the first building to breach the tree line and would clearly impact the existing sightlines there.
According to the Protect the Palisades (PtP) group, when complaints about the plan began to pour in, the city of Englewood Cliffs negated the variance by rewriting their code to allow for structures taller than 35 ft. This, the group says, opens Pandora’s box and allows for rampant construction throughout the area that will spoil the natural beauty and ruin the Palisades, which has remained visually the same for hundreds of years.
Politicians on both sides of the issue…
The PtP group began seeking and receiving support from a variety of politicians – including four former governors – as well as New York and New Jersey senators, six Northern New Jersey mayors, several New Jersey and New York congressmen, and more. The group claims it also has the support of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Park Service, major editorial boards in both states, and “tens of thousands” of citizens.
Just this week, the group won a unanimous vote from the Palisades Interstate Parks Commission calling on LG to rework its plans for a lower structure to preserve the beauty of the Palisades. The Commission does not have the authority to stop LG, but it has thrown its support behind the Protect the Palisades group.
Life was good…
According to the Bergen Record, more than 100 concerned citizens showed up carrying signs that said things like “LG Tower a Monument to Corporate Arrogance” and “The Palisades is Not for Sale” and, picking up on LGs Life is Good slogan, said “Life was Good Before LG.”
According to the Record’s report: “After the vote, the audience erupted in applause. Ed Goodell, executive director of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, lead the crowd in a cheer of “Hip-hip-hooray!”
Billboards raise awareness…
This year, the PtP group raised the stakes in their battle with LG by placing billboards in Las Vegas during the Consumer Electronics Show…and now has placed a billboard in Manhattan visible from the West Side Highway near 125th Street. The billboard, which exhorts viewers to “Don’t Let LG Spoil the Palisades,” directs viewers to voice their concerns using the hash tag #StopLG.
Late last year, LG broke ground on the project and has said it will provide 2,200 construction jobs. Not only that, but it estimates that it will increase the employment in Englewood Cliffs from the current 500 jobs to as much as 1,200 total. The Bergen County Board of Freeholders voted unanimously to support the project.
At the expense of others…
PtP says the company chose to build vertically to provide its offices with good views, but at the expense of other residents. It quotes the National Park Service as saying, “While such a tower will provide its occupants with spectacular views, it will be at the expense of everyone else’s experience of the Palisades.”
“Rather than LG sacrificing the public interest for its private gain, there is still time for LG to choose a responsible low-rise design on its large 27-acre lot, which would provide the same office space and same jobs while respecting the integrity of the Palisades,” said Linda Babeuf, President of the New Jersey Federation of Women’s Clubs in a prepared statement.
Environmentalists head to court…
Elements of the PtP group have gone to court to appeal the decision to allow LG to go ahead with the project. According to a report by the Newark Star Ledger, LG says it will continue with the construction anyway, as it is confident that it will survive the appeal.
“While LG respects the legal process, we strongly believe the trial court made the right decision based on long-established legal principles that municipalities have the power and authority to best determine local zoning decisions,” LG Vice President John Taylor told the paper.
In the meantime, PtP says they will continue their lawsuit, and their efforts to gain greater support to stop the LG headquarters project.
For more information on Protect the Palisades, see: www.protectthepalisades.org.
And to learn more about LG and its products, see: www.lg.com/us.