Two rezoning and redevelopment projects in New York City will proceed after a state Supreme Court justice in Manhattan on Thursday ruled against a legal challenge from residents in Manhattan and Brooklyn.
The residents claimed in a lawsuit against the city last year that the city’s environmental review of the rezoning projects was unlawful because it failed to consider how rent-stabilized tenants would be affected, particularly through gentrification.
Those projects are a 96-block redevelopment plan in Manhattan’s East Harlem neighborhood and the redevelopment of the Bedford-Union Armory in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
The plaintiffs, who live in rent-stabilized apartments, were represented by the Legal Aid Society, which said they are considering appealing the decision.
“We are deeply disappointed with the court’s decision today ruling against the best interests of the East Harlem and Crown Heights communities. We still maintain that the methodology the city employs to measure tenant displacement is fundamentally flawed, and that it ignores obvious realities and the consequences of land use decisions on rents and livelihoods,” said Kat Meyers, a staff attorney with the organization’s law reform unit. “We are currently weighing all of our options—including appellate litigation and legislation—that will finally resolve this issue for our clients and other low-income New Yorkers.”
Justice Carmen Victoria St. George said in her decision that the city followed the law in its reviews, even if residents didn’t favor the outcome.
“The court is sympathetic to petitioners, who aim to protect those who are not members of community boards, are not elected officials, and often do not express their positions at public hearings,” St. George said. “The goal of the city, and of the projects at hand, is to balance the interests of the communities. … The court’s role, in turn, is not to question the way in which the city, entrusted with these projects, draws the balance.”
The city’s Law Department celebrated the decision in a statement Thursday, saying it will clear the way for more affordable housing in East Harlem and Crown Heights.
“We are pleased that the court recognized that the city conducted very thorough and proper environmental reviews for these initiatives. The Bedford Union Armory redevelopment project and the East Harlem Rezoning mean thousands of permanently affordable homes for neighborhood families, jobs for local residents, and more community spaces, investments in parks, schools, and roads,” the department said in a statement.