A Manhattan judge has ordered a halt to the American Museum of Natural History’s $383 million expansion project, which has drawn opposition from local residents who are concerned about the loss of parkland by the museum and other potential environmental ramifications.

In defense of allowing the controversial project to move forward without subjecting it to a run through the land-use review process for new development and rezonings, the New York City government cites a state statute enacted in 1876 that it argues gives the museum the right to expand into the neighboring Theodore Roosevelt Park, which the city owns.

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