A decision in Crown Heights does not bode well for the Gowanus rezoning.
Brooklyn Judge Katherine Levine on Thursday upheld a temporary restraining order blocking the rezoning of 960 Franklin Street, Brownstoner reports.
The judge said the city needed to find a way to make the rezoning hearings more accessible, and give everyone an opportunity to express their “two-minute spiel” on the project. Neighborhood groups had argued that hosting Uniform Land Use Review Procedure hearings unfairly excluded community members without access to high-speed internet.
The decision is bad news for the de Blasio administration, which is waging a similar fight over its proposal to rezone Gowanus. Levine is the presiding judge in that case as well, and she has encouraged the city and community groups to find a way to make meetings more accessible. During a hearing in January, she even floated the idea of installing public computers in the Park Slope Armory.
Groups in Gowanus have argued that city rules require that Ulurp proceedings be held in a “place of convenient public assembly,” a provision that the city has argued was suspended through state action during the pandemic. The mayor upped his game on Sunday, signing an executive order that explicitly permitted remote Ulurp hearings.
But Levine was not impressed. She said Thursday that she would “not be dealing” with the executive order.
This puts the city in a bit of a sticky situation. The Gowanus rezoning is a priority for the administration as de Blasio nears the end of his term and mayoral hopefuls pledge to overhaul the city’s land use process.
Elise Wagner, a partner in Kramer Levin’s land use department, said the city may work to resolve this issue quickly — by reaching some sort of judge-approved compromise — but reserve its right to object to the premise that it was legally obligated to provide options beyond the remote hearing. Otherwise, presumably, previous land use decisions made via Zoom could be called into question.
Residential: The priciest residential closing recorded Friday was for a townhouse at 9 East 71st Street in Lenox Hill at $51 million.
Commercial: The most expensive commercial closing of the day was for a mixed-use building at 175 Smith Street in Boerum Hill at $2.1 million.
NEW TO THE MARKET
The priciest residence to hit the market was for a townhouse at 415 Greenwich Street in Tribeca at $6.7 million. Douglas Elliman has the listing.
—Research by Orion Jones
A thing we’ve learned…
Manhattan’s smallest island is U Thant Island, named after former United Nations Secretary General U Thant. The artificial island is located in the East River and is not for people: It is designated as a sanctuary for migrating birds, including the double-crested cormorant. Thank you to Kevin Sun for providing the namesake info, and to Audubon for exposing me to the crazy sounds these birds make.
Elsewhere in New York
— Alyssa McGrath, who currently works as an aide in the governor’s administration, has accused Gov. Andrew Cuomo of ogling her body, making comments about her physical appearance and making suggestive remarks to her and a coworker, the New York Times reports. “It makes me really upset to hear him speak about this and completely deny all allegations,” she said in response to the governor’s insistence that he has never touched anyone inappropriately. “And I have no doubt in my mind that all of these accusers are telling the truth.”
— A Long Island contractor must pay New York $1.6 million after allegedly overbilling and falsifying hours on several government-funded transportation and other public projects, the New York Daily News reports. V.J. Associates worked as a subcontractor on public works projects for the Metropolitan Transit Authority, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, New York City’s School Construction Authority and other state entities.
— A former lobbyist has accused Republican Rep. Tom Reed of sexual misconduct, the Washington Post reports. Nicolette Davis told the newspaper that in 2017, the New York Congressman touched her inappropriately while at a bar in Minneapolis. Reed, who is considering a run against Cuomo, said the account of his actions was not accurate.