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Group Formally Pans View-Marring LG Palisades Headquarters

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A fight that has gained attention on both sides of the Hudson River intensified a little bit further. In a meeting at the Fort Lee Historic Park in Fort Lee, N.J., the Palisades Interstate Park Commission passed a resolution opposing LG's planned corporate headquarters not far north in Englewood Cliffs. Dozens of members of the public showed up and held up signs showing their support for the resolution. At issue is the height of the planned building, which will top the tree line of the historic Palisades—a green lung some say will mar a national treasure. Over a century ago, thanks to the Rockefeller family and the women's clubs of New Jersey, the cliff line stretching well into New York State was preserved. The U.S. Department of the Interior designated the Palisades a National Historic Landmark in 1965. But those pristine cliffs could change very soon, and that's why this matters for New Yorkers. They are the ones whose views of the pre-historic cliffs will change if this building is completed, and they joined residents and officials of the Garden State at today's meeting.

[The crowd—its sentiments clearly aired—at the meeting. Photos by Evan Bindelglass.]

In November, LG broke ground on its new building, which is slated to be 143 feet tall. The South Korean company got a variance to exceed the 35-foot height limit.

There are lawsuits challenging the height of the building, and many organizations have countered that LG could house the same amount of office space in a shorter building. A host of organizations have come out against the project.

Public officials, however, harbor mixed opinions about the project. Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan and the Board of Chosen Freeholders have backed the project. But former New Jersey governors Brendan Byrne, Tom Kean, Jim Florio, and Christie Whitman are all opposed to it.

Today, the Palisades Interstate Park Commission put itself on the record as a member of the latter camp, unanimously passing a resolution to that effect. When it passed, there were three cheers of "hip hip hooray" from the crowd; at least two speakers not from the commission invoked Theodore Roosevelt, known for his conservation efforts.

LG's 27-acre property in Englewood Cliffs is west of the Palisades Interstate Park and privately owned. So while today's vote has no actual legal impact, James Hall, the commission's executive director, told Curbed that the group wanted to be unambiguous when it came to its position.

Palisades Resolution Opposing LG's Headquarters

Attendee Ed Goodell, executive director of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, which is joining the legal challenge to the new building, told Curbed he has two fears. First, he worries the building will be a "blight" on a piece of America that looks pretty much like it did thousands of years ago. Second, he believes that this won't be the final straw, but rather the beginning of further development on the Palisades north of the George Washington Bridge.

LG, for its part, didn't have any representatives at the meeting today. Its official website for the Englewood Cliffs project, though, boasts about how green the building will be, and how it will bring 1,100 new jobs by 2020.

New York City dwellers are passionate about the issue, too. David Gellman, a member of Bronx Community Board 8, which represents Riverdale along with other neighborhoods, attended today's meeting and told Curbed there is "no need to do this" when the same amount of space can be accommodated by building horizontally instead of vertically. He said it was "hubris" and the company was only doing this to provide executives with a view of Manhattan.

John Kashwick, chair of the Sierra Club's North Jersey Group, will, in a piece to be published tomorrow, contend: "LG is a consumer giant that wants to crap it [the Palisades] up" by exceeding a zoning law "that no American business has ever dared to breach." He will go on to say "its precedent will open up high-rise development all along the Palisades north of Fort Lee and the George Washington Bridge."

A petition created by the World Monuments Fund has over 2,600 signatures. On the same side, Protect the Palisades has been one of the central organizers of the fight against the too-tall building. They are calling for a day of action on March 8, when they will encourage people to go out to retail stores where LG products are sold to show their opposition.
—Evan Bindelglass is a local freelance journalist, photographer, cinephile, and foodie. You can e-mail him, follow him on Twitter @evabin, or check out his personal blog.
· All LG Palisades headquarters coverage [Curbed]