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Concerns Aired Over New Apartment Complex On Leonia, Fort Lee Border

Traffic at the five-point entrance to and exit from Route 46 at Fort Lee Road. Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia
This abandoned house near the corner of Fort Lee Rd. and Rte. 46 west is on a property where a 59-unit 6-story apartment building is proposed. Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia
The abandoned house overlooks Fort Lee Road. Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia
The property is on a hill looking directly over Fort Lee Road. Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia
A hearing on the proposal was held on Nov. 23 in Fort Lee. Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia

LEONIA, N.J. -- A six-story Fort Lee apartment complex at the entrance to Route 46 on the Leonia border appears inevitable following Planning Board approval.

Concerns were raised, however, by area residents who said the developer wasn't asked to contribute to intersection improvements, a common requirement.

It matters in this case, Al Gonzalez of Irving Street said, because the 59-unit project would be on a patch of long-unused property at a five-point intersection of Fort Lee Road that connects the spot with the George Washington Bridge.

A local street, Hoeffley's Lane, runs parallel to a Route 46 exit on the north side of Fort Lee Road and has an elementary school down the block. There are no traffic signals there.

The state Department of Transportation and the county Planning Board would have to sign off before the complex could use the highway access ramp south of Fort Lee Road as routes in and out of the property.

Nine years ago, opposition to “Fort Lee Green” forced another builder to abandon a 9-story proposal, according to Oratam Terrace resident Jeff McCartney.

The building was planned as office/residence combinations, with professionals living where they worked.

It also required several variances.

The new proposal by Border Development LLC is for two stories of parking and four stories of apartments. Because Fort Lee rezoned the parcel and designated it a “redevelopment area,” it doesn’t require variances.

Gonzalez noted that the developer’s attorney is former Leonia Mayor Paul Kaufman, known to be an ally of Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, also a real estate lawyer.

Yet, he said: “As I see it, this plan is a hell of a lot better than the proposal nine years ago.”

The property was once in Leonia, but the town ceded it to Fort Lee because there was a tavern on the site.

Leonia is the only municipality in Bergen County that doesn't have a bar.

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