On Wednesday, December 27, a community group lost its appeal in court to preserve the spectacular view of the Brooklyn Bridge from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade.
The original decision was upheld, with the merits of the lawsuit playing no part in the decision of the New York State Appeals Court in Brooklyn. In September 2015, State Supreme Court Justice Lawrence Knipel decided that the lawsuit filed by Save The View Now (STVN), a group co-founded by Brooklyn Heights resident Steven Guterman, was submitted four-months after the Article 78 Statute of Limitations.
The lawsuit claims that the Pierhouse complex’s hotel section in Brooklyn Bridge Park reaches 30 feet beyond the height limit of 100-feet, which was agreed on in 2005 with the community. The iconic views of the Brooklyn Bridge are now impaired by the finished building.
The procedure by which governing bodies and city and state agencies can be sued are outlined in Article 78. According to court documents, the suit must be filed within four months of the date that the agency’s position on the issue becomes “readily ascertainable” to the complaining party.
The Brooklyn Eagle reports, “The four-judge Court of Appeals said that STVN was correct in stating that the park failed to submit proof establishing the dates of the agency approvals of rooftop structures over the height and baseline limitations. But they agreed with Knipel that STVN could have reasonably ascertained that the building height blew past the agreed-upon height limitation sooner than it apparently did — or, at the latest, by September 10, 2014, when the northern building reached its maximum height. STVN filed their lawsuit on April 21, 2015.”
On Thursday, December 28, a spokesperson for the park told the Eagle, “We’re pleased with yesterday’s decision which affirms Justice Knipel’s dismissal of the Pierhouse case. Like the other development projects in Brooklyn Bridge Park, this project generates much needed revenue to maintain and operate the Park.”
Politics had a part in permitting the oversized building, says STVN’s Guterman.
On Friday, December 29, Guterman told the Eagle, “We are disappointed in the decision by the appeals court. It is a sad commentary when it is clear to Court and anybody that reads the planning documents that what Toll Brothers built is significantly larger and more obstructive than what was promised to the community in 2005, and nothing can be done.”
He added, “This is a conflict of interest case that is permitted due to very weak anti-corruption legislation in New York. It is well known that Toll Brothers is a major contributor to Mayor de Blasio’s election campaign, and the mayor’s offer helped Toll Brothers violate the promises made to the public. The citizens of New York will continue to get ignored as long as the real estate developers are allowed to provide major funding to our politicians. It is time for either the state or city government to place people before money and pass strict anti-corruption laws.”
By Mark Snyder
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