A local councilperson running for mayor is joining several Paterson residents in saying a 171-unit development should not have been approved.
Councilperson Michael Jackson and four citizens filed a lawsuit against the city’s zoning board, challenging approval of the five-story development, the Paterson Press reported. The plaintiffs allege Paterson’s Board of Adjustment approved the development despite the fact that it exceeded limits on height, surface footprint and number of units. They also claim that housing isn’t permitted in a mixed-use development zone.
The development is not in Jackson’s ward. The councilperson didn’t comment on the lawsuit, but he is running for mayor and the election is fewer than two weeks away. The current mayor, Andre Sayegh, has said the project is representative of the “growth mode” the city is trying to embody.
The attorney who filed the complaint said Jackson “doesn’t like what’s going on in the city with all these big projects being approved” when asked about the councilperson’s involvement in litigation across town.
Abdul Hamden, the developer on the project, purchased the property from the county government at auction for $5.5 million in 2020. The property at 305-319 Pennsylvania Avenue formerly housed the Passaic County administrative building.
Hamden, who told the Paterson Press he was unaware of the lawsuit, plans to finish demolition at the site in June, having already completed asbestos removal and taken the roof off the building. Construction of the multifamily project is expected to cost between $50 million and $55 million.
The councilperson who represents the district where the development is located has previously expressed support, saying he was “looking forward to working with the developer to enhance the neighborhood.”
The Board of Adjustment voted 6-1 in favor of the project last year, the Paterson Press reported. In addition to the 171 units, the development is also slated to include 310 parking spaces and 7,800 square feet for retail.
[Paterson Press] — Holden Walter-Warner