Judge nixes Inwood rezoning

The city will likely appeal the decision

Dec.December 19, 2019 04:56 PM
Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez and Mayor Bill de Blasio (Credit: Getty Images)

Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez and Mayor Bill de Blasio (Credit: Getty Images)

UPDATED, Dec. 19, 2019, 7:24 p.m.: The Inwood rezoning has just been annulled with the stroke of a pen.

In a New York Supreme Court decision issued today, Justice Verna Saunders granted a petition to nullify the rezoning. Such a reversal is highly unusual.

The neighborhood’s rezoning faced fierce opposition, and last December, Inwood Legal Action filed a petition alleging that the review process was incomplete and did not examine potential socioeconomic impacts. The review process was challenged under Article 78, which allows for challenges to government actions.

“The decision from the judge completely annuls the rezoning and remands it back to the Economic Development Corporation and the deputy mayor,” a New York State Senate source said. “There were eight counts in the petition and they were all upheld.”

Reached by phone, EDC declined to comment on the annulment.

A spokesperson for the city’s law department confirmed that the city would appeal the decision.

“We strongly disagree with this ruling which we believe is legally incorrect and contrary to well-established precedent,” the representative said in a statement. “We stand by the city’s thorough environmental review and will challenge this decision so important projects, including the building of 1,600 new affordable homes in this community, can proceed.”

In her decision, Justice Saunders said the review process failed to take a hard look at the socioeconomic consequences of the rezoning, particularly the concerns raised by Unified Inwood, a member of the coalition Northern Manhattan is Not for Sale. The group had said the review process neglected to consider the rezoning’s impact on preferential rents, displacement, the impact on minority and women-owned businesses and speculative purchases of real estate in Inwood ahead of and after the rezoning, among other concerns.

Real estate investors purchased $610 million worth of properties in the neighborhood since plans to rezone were announced in 2013, according to the New York Times.

In a statement, state Sen. Robert Jackson said, “Today is a day of hope for the Inwood community and for all working-class communities of color across New York City who are under threat of predatory rezonings… We expect the city will appeal, so we anticipate that our work is not done.”

Ava Farkas, the executive director of the Metropolitan Council on Housing, called the decision a “unique and significant victory.”

“We were not expecting for this to happen,” said Farkas. “It’s really hard to stop and reverse rezoning and major policy like this and real estate decisions the city makes.”

Update: This story has been updated to include additional commentary from the city, and state Sen. Robert Jackson.

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