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Sports authority moving forward at Dream site, lawsuit notwithstanding

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With permitting mostly resolved for the American Dream Meadowlands project, the state agency overseeing the plan is not allowing litigation to delay an important review process for the sprawling retail and entertainment complex.

The agency, the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority, is moving forward with a review by its master plan committee, despite a pending lawsuit aimed at blocking construction, President and CEO Wayne Hasenbalg said. The agency in the near future plans to request submissions from stakeholders that will allow it to start the review and schedule hearings, he said.

"We've been working, and all of the consultants have been working for months," Hasenbalg said Thursday after the authority's monthly board meeting. "So this is really just putting it all together and having it reviewed by the appropriate committee."

American Dream, an effort to reboot the stalled Xanadu project, was dealt a potential blow last month when the New York Jets and New York Giants sued to block its developer from resuming construction at the Meadowlands Sports Complex. The NFL teams, which play at nearby MetLife Stadium, contend the project will clog game-day traffic around the venue.

In a complaint filed June 22, the teams say developer Triple Five's plan to add indoor water and amusement parks violates a 2006 agreement with the previous developer. The agreement gives them the right to consent to certain changes to the project.

Attorneys for Triple Five responded by saying the teams were trying to circumvent the sports authority's review process. Oral arguments for the case have been scheduled for Aug. 6.

Triple Five has spent several months obtaining environmental approvals from state and federal regulators. The permits were tied to the developer's plan to build the water and amusement parks on an adjacent tract of wetlands.

Hasenbalg said he could not place an exact timeline on the master plan committee's review, but said the permitting process is nearly complete at both the state and federal level. The agency is planning to conduct a separate set of hearings on the dispute involving the teams and the developer.

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