Another state appeals court has overruled ridiculous “Not In My Back Yard” objections to a development project that’s fully in legal compliance with zoning rules. It’s welcome news for a city looking to bounce back from the economically debilitating impact of the coronavirus.
Late last month, a Manhattan appellate court unanimously overturned an absurd ruling that halted the Two Bridges project. An important takeaway from the decision should guide lower courts in similar cases: “It is undisputed that they do not violate any applicable zoning regulation” — meaning judges need to stop trying to override city officials’ exercise of their lawful discretion.
Earlier this summer, in a 5-0 decision, the same court reinstated the city’s rezoning of Inwood, reversing a lower court’s December finding.
Both rulings are wins for developers and the de Blasio administration — just as the city faces a devastating budget shortfall that will strain its ability to build infrastructure and invest in affordable housing.
Two Bridges gets the greenlight for three apartment towers ranging 70 to 100 stories along the Lower East Side waterfront. The project will include one of the single-largest infusions of new affordable housing in Manhattan in decades, $40 million in upgrades to the East Broadway subway station that will make it handicap-accessible, $12.5 million in repairs to a nearby NYCHA complex and $15 million in upgrades to three public parks in the neighborhood.
Next on the court docket is the 200 Amsterdam appeal. Other pending projects include 1510 Broadway and an affordable-housing project and rezonings in Soho and Gowanus.
Unfortunately, the city recently withdrew from a promising public-private waterfront rezoning in Long Island City’s Anable Basin that would’ve produced up to 12 million square feet of commercial, residential and open space.
City Hall’s foot-dragging on restarting the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure or ULURP, a multi-step public-review process, is an added crimp on development when New Yorkers badly need new housing and construction jobs — and with private investment even more critical now that the city’s own coffers are badly squeezed.
This is the only hope for Mayor de Blasio’s ambitious affordable-housing plan to create or preserve 300,000 housing units by 2026.
So City Hall needs to push hard — fighting bad judicial rulings and moving faster on other administrative blocks to building. Get New York City building — and growing — again.
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