LG Wins New Jersey Court’s Approval to Build Atop Hudson Cliffs

A U.S. unit of LG Electronics Inc. won approval from a New Jersey court to build a $300 million headquarters over objections that it would ruin views of the Palisades, a 200-million-year-old chunk of rocky wilderness above the western shore of the Hudson River.

Superior Court Judge Alexander H. Carver III yesterday dismissed two lawsuits challenging an approval by the Englewood Cliffs Zoning Board of Adjustment for a new North American headquarters for LG Electronics USA Inc. LG, the world’s second-biggest television maker behind Samsung Electronics Co., wants a view of the famous New York City skyline.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, four former New Jersey governors and environmentalist Larry Rockefeller, a grandson of philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr., sought to stop the approval by the Englewood Cliffs Zoning Board of Adjustment. Carver ruled that the board didn’t exceed its authority in granting variances.

“The board found that LG had met the positive criteria requirements because the project promoted the general welfare by maintaining jobs, promoting green building design, providing adequate light, air and open space, providing energy efficiency, and utilizing renewable energy sources,” according to the ruling in state court in Hackensack.

Variances Justified

“The board’s determination that LG had satisfied the positive criteria required by statute to justify granting the variances sought is fully supported by the record, and is not arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable,” Carver ruled.

LG said yesterday in a statement that the ruling clears the way for construction.

“LG was transparent, accountable and consultative in the process to achieve all necessary approvals for this project,” Wayne Park, president and chief executive officer of LG Electronics USA, said in the statement. “We listened carefully to the concerns of local residents and community groups, and we amended our plans to address those concerns.”

In a 2012 lawsuit, opponents said Englewood Cliffs wrongly approved a 143-foot tower in a borough that caps building height at 35 feet (10.6 meters). The complaint was filed by two county residents, Margo Moss and Jakob Franke, plus the New Jersey State Federation of Women’s Clubs and Scenic Hudson, a Poughkeepsie, New York-based preservation group.

Four Governors

On June 5, four former governors -- Democrats Brendan Byrne and Jim Florio and Republicans Christie Whitman and Thomas H. Kean Sr. -- signed a letter to Koo Bon-Joon, co-vice chairman of Seoul-based LG, asking for a redesign. The EPA followed up with a June 11 letter to Park.

Harold Holzer, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, didn’t immediately return a call yesterday seeking comment on the ruling. The museum’s Cloisters medieval collection is housed across the river from the Palisades.

Last month, Holzer said: “There is no place in the world that you can see a space that a 17th century explorer saw. Only in New Jersey. That’s something to cherish, not to violate.”

Mark Izeman, an attorney for the Manhattan-based Natural Resources Defense Council, a nonprofit environmental group, didn’t immediately return a call yesterday seeking comment. The council is part of a coalition, ProtectThePalisades.org, that encourages activists to contact LG and elected officials.

The case is Jacoby v. Zoning Board of Adjustment of Englewood Cliffs, L-2301-12, New Jersey Superior Court, Bergen County (Hackensack).

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