Judge chucks lawsuit seeking to halt Soho rezoning

City’s application remains on track for approval later this year

New York /
Jul.July 08, 2021 03:14 PM
Mayor Bill de Blasio (Getty, iStock)

Mayor Bill de Blasio (Getty, iStock)

One hurdle is out of the way for the planned rezoning of Soho and Noho.

Judge Arthur Engoron on Wednesday tossed a lawsuit that sought to halt the rezoning, finding that the de Blasio administration had provided adequate notice that it was launching the land use review process.

The lawsuit had accused the city of failing to give legally required information about its intent to certify the rezoning application — the first step of the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, or Ulurp — 30 days before doing so.

The complaint had also argued that Ulurp proceedings cannot be held virtually, and that the de Blasio administration was rushing to complete the rezoning before the end of his term. Both points are now largely moot: Community Board 2 held an in-person hearing on June 23, and Eric Adams, projected to be the next mayor, has voiced support for the rezoning.

However, turnover of the City Council seat in January could bring in a representative less amenable to rezoning, which is one reason supporters want this year’s application to go through. Democrat Chris Marte, who has not been supportive of the city’s plan, is expected to succeed Council member Margaret Chin, who has.

“We are pleased that the court dismissed meritless allegations that the city cut corners in getting this rezoning started and recognized that the city’s lawful and proper actions allowed for meaningful public involvement,” Nick Paolucci, a Law Department spokesperson, said in a statement.

Jason Zakai, an attorney representing the community groups that sued, said his clients are considering their options, including an appeal. In a July 2 filing, Zakai claimed that city officials changed their tune about in-person hearings, only recently acknowledging that they couldn’t prevent community boards from hosting in-person meetings.

The change “clearly shows intent to minimize public awareness and access to information about the proposed project,” the filing states.

The rezoning would affect 56 blocks across Soho and Noho, eliminating restrictions that permit only light manufacturing use on ground floors and paving the way for 2 million square feet of new residential space. Under Mandatory Inclusionary Housing, a percentage of new units would be set aside as affordable.

Opponents have argued that the proposal is a giveaway to developers that will lead to more big-box retail and large-scale luxury condos. Community Board 2 is hosting another hearing Thursday night.

A similar lawsuit held up the city’s proposed rezoning of Gowanus. That plan was able to move forward after the administration allowed hybrid — virtual and in-person — hearings. The delay imperiled the rezoning’s chances, as Brooklyn Council member Brad Lander and Mayor Bill de Blasio are term limited. Lander’s projected successor, Shanaha Hanif, opposes the Gowanus rezoning.

In order for such applications to make it through the seven-month land use review process before the end of the de Blasio administration, such proposals needed to be certified by late spring.





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