Suit linked to mayor’s campaign controversy could disrupt land-use rules

Suit linked to mayor's campaign controversy could disrupt land-use rules

Mayor Bill de Blasio
Mayor Bill de Blasio

The future of the city and state’s land-use process could hinge on a lawsuit allegedly linked to the controversy over Mayor Bill de Blasio’s campaign contributions.

An appeals court is set to review claims that the state wrongfully approved a developer’s plans to build a nursing home on a lead-contaminated plot next to an Upper West Side school. Parents and students at the school argue that the state’s environmental-review process was inadequate, Politico reported.

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The mayor’s office filed a friend of the court brief in favor of the developer, Jewish Home Lifecare, setting off accusations that de Blasio simply wanted to help out the law firm representing the developer, Kramer Levin. The firm is also representing de Blasio in the federal investigation into whether he funneled contributions to candidates in the 2014 state Senate election to avoid contribution limits. City officials told the website that Kramer Levin attorney and longtime de Blasio ally Barry Berke wasn’t involved in the lawsuit, though the firm does represent the developer in other matters. Greenberg Traurig is representing the developer in the lawsuit.

The city’s brief claimed that the lawsuit could “upset the consistent and predictable process developed over decades by the city for reviewing potential environmental impacts of projects and programs throughout the city.” The Brief Argued That Supreme Court Justice Joan Lobis’ ruling in favor of the parents and students would “insert an arbitrary threshold for adequacy into the environmental review process.”

The appeals court is slated to hear the case in June. [Politico] — Kathryn Brenzel