Boerum Hill residents sue to undo 80 Flatbush rezoning as tower plans advance

July 12, 2019

Rendering via Alloy Development and Luxigon.

Nearly a year after the New York City Council voted to approve 80 Flatbush, a five-building mixed-use development in Downtown Brooklyn, a group of Boerum Hill residents has mounted a court battle to halt the rise of tall buildings on the site and roll back the rezoning that allows them. As the Brooklyn Eagle reports, the 400 & 500 State Street Block Association, comprised mainly of residents who live in the neighborhood’s sprinkling of low-rise brownstones, have filed a lawsuit seeking the annulment of the 2018 zoning changes that gave the green light to an 840-foot skyscraper, a 510-foot tower, 670 market-rate apartments and 200 affordable units, two public schools and office and retail space on the property, which is bounded by State Street, Third Avenue, Schermerhorn Street and Flatbush Avenue.

80 Flatbush, 80 Flatbush Avenue, brooklyn

The petitioners who filed the lawsuit have named the City Council, the City Planning Commission, the New York City Educational Construction Fund and Alloy Development, the developer leading the project. Like many similar lawsuits in protest of developments that have already obtained the necessary City Council votes and passed the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), the residents’ group argues that “The destruction of this buffer for profit constituted unlawful and constitutionally impermissible spot zoning,” according to a memorandum by residents’ attorney Walter Jennings, who argues that this amounts to “illegal contract zoning” that was “arbitrary and capricious and an abuse of discretion” that will lead to “drastic environmental and land-use impacts” in a residential neighborhood.

Alloy Development has responded by emphasizing that the company is well within the law. A spokesperson said the company “believe[s] the record will show that the process was lawfully observed and that the decisions reached were well-grounded in the law.”

In the case upholding the rezoning decision, the respondents’ lawyers say the new project will bring “public benefits to support the general welfare of the community” worth $220 million. In addition to a $110 million school, there will be a new home for Khalil Gibran International Academy, a new 350-seat elementary school and 200 units of affordable housing worth an estimated $120 million.

The respondents also cite a Court of Appeals ruling that rebuts the opposition’s challenge to the constitutionality of the rezoning. The ruling states that “Because zoning is a legislative act, zoning ordinances and amendments enjoy a strong presumption of constitutionality and the burden rests on the party attacking them to overcome that presumption beyond a reasonable doubt.”

[Via Brooklyn Eagle]


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