Supreme Court Judge Finds Inwood Rezoning in Violation of SEQRA

Proposed rezoning. Image credit: CPC.

City approaching to interest Judge’s preference invalidating a Inwood Rezoning. On Dec 10, 2019, Judge Verna L. Saunders of a New York State Supreme Court, New York county ruled in preference of a Northern Manhattan is Not For Sale’s Article 78 petition severe a legality of a Inwood Rezoning. The rezoning was due by a city’s Economic Development Corporation and was set to up-zone 59 blocks in a Inwood area of Manhattan. Approval of a rezoning would assent skill owners to build mixed-use blurb and residential developments adult to thirty stories tall, where primarily one to dual story-buildings and warehouses formerly existed. The devise also enclosed scarcely 1,600 new affordable housing units. Northern Manhattan is Not For Sale is an unincorporated organisation of people and organizations alleging a City unsuccessful to investigate a vicious impacts of a rezoning before City Council authorized a focus on Aug 8, 2018. In vast partial Northern Manhattan is Not For Sale believes that a rezoning will excommunicate longtime Inwood residents.

In anticipating for Northern Manhattan is Not For Sale, Judge Saunders did not brawl any of a City’s commentary during a open examination process. Rather, Judge Saunders found that a examination routine was deficient and in defilement of a State Environmental Quality Review Act.

Under a New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (“SEQRA”), a City Environmental Quality Review (“CEQR”) routine occurs in tandem with a ULURP action. The Office of a Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development served as lead group for a SEQRA/CEQR review, and was so obliged for coordinating a environmental and socio-economic studies.

In conducting these studies, a City admittedly unsuccessful to residence a following 8 emanate lifted by a open in both a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (“DEIS”) and subsequently a Final Environmental Impact Statement (“FEIS”):

(1) The impact of a rezoning on favoured rents and on fostering or increasing residential displacement;

(2)The secular impact of a rezoning/residential displacement;

(3) The impact of a rezoning on minority and women-owned businesses;

(4) The flaw between predictions of a impact of before rezoning and tangible results;

(5) The amicable impact of a detriment of a community’s library;

(6) The impact caused by a rezoning on puncture response times/response times of initial responders;

(7) The accumulative impacts of a rezoning and other vital land use events impacting a community;

(8) The suppositional purchases of residential buildings in Inwood preceding and concurrent to a rezoning.

In creation this determination, Judge Saunders cited a 1983 First Department case, Coalition opposite Lincoln w., Inc. v. New York, saying “[c]ompliance with SEQRA/CEQRA requires agencies to take a “hard look” during environmental consequences and that information be deliberate that would lend itself to a reasoned conclusion, however, agencies are not compulsory to cruise each probable alternative.”

The City argued that they did in fact take a tough demeanour during a applicable areas of environmental courtesy and scrupulously released a Statements of Findings underneath SEQRA/CEQR. The City cited a endless open examination process, modifications, comments, and feedback from a community. Ultimately, a City asserted a FEIS was prepared with a superintendence of a CEQR technical manual, gratifying a “hard look” requirement, and relieving them of a requirement to residence a 8 issues lifted by community.

The justice suspicion otherwise. Judge Saunders famous that a lead agency, in this box a Office of a Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development, is not compulsory to residence “every fathomable environmental impact,” though that a indicate of a open examination routine is to give a applicable village suggestive involvement.  The CEQR primer should therefore be used as a guideline. The primer itself states that a lead group should “consider open routine and open comments in further to a technical studies.” The justice forked to this denunciation to reason that a “the open examination routine should be taken with due courtesy and a comments subsequent therefrom should be reasonably considered.” Ultimately, Judge Saunders found that a Office of a Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development did not take a “hard look” during a areas of courtesy lifted by a public, thereby not complying with SEQRA.

The Court annulled a fortitude and systematic a Office of a Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development investigate a 8 issues lifted by a Community.

The City is approaching to interest a decision. In their central statement, a Law Department settled “We strongly remonstrate with this statute that we trust is legally improper and discordant to timeless precedent. We mount by a City’s consummate environmental examination and will plea this preference so critical projects, including a building of 1,600 new affordable homes in this community, can proceed.”

Howard Goldman, land use profession and accessory highbrow during New York Law School thinks a visualisation has a intensity to be overturned, as a justice competence have conflated a issues. He settled “the environmental examination is a addition to a ULURP process…it’s not meant to substitute a process.” Goldman forked out that “SEQRA is all opposite a state, nonetheless nowhere else is a ULURP process.”

By: Jason Rogovich (Jason Rogovich is a CityLaw Fellow and New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2019)




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