In what appears to be a temporary victory for David against Goliath, or maybe little David against big David (Kramer), a judge this afternoon issued a temporary restraining order against Hudson Companies to stop pouring concrete til the judge rules, maybe two weeks hence. It would appear that Hudson was strangely eager to move things along, as they even started to line up the trucks before the legal starting time of 7am.
Not long after 6am, neighbors heard the trucks a-comin' and alerted various folks in PPEN and the recently formed MTOPP. or (Coalition Moratorium To Protection of Prospect Park (no I don't understand that org's word order either, nor the letters used for the acronym), and a small but feisty group formed to try to block the trucks from entering. At least one person, Alicia Boyd of CMPPP, or rather MTOPP, also of the Sterling Street Block Association, was arrested. According to a trusted source, by later this afternoon, David Kramer of Hudson had showed up in court with a lawyer who actually made the odd choice to question the NY State Supreme Court judge's legal authority to issue a TRO. Well, the judge HAD that authority, and was more than happy to show Hudson how it works.
Speaking of barristers, another lawyer, representing PPEN said it was quite possibly the first time in Brooklyn that a judge stopped a building from being built as of right, simply because a local community had come out against the project. And so...two weeks from now, we'll look for a ruling as to whether Hudson violated key provisions of its agreement with the State to use government-backed loans for construction.
Stay tuned. The intrigue is intriguing..
BONUS: A press release from Legal Services NYC to fill you in on details:
May 30th, 2014, Brooklyn, NY—Justice Peter Moulton this afternoon ordered that the developers of a 23-story residential tower in Prospect Lefferts Gardens stop laying the foundation of the building pending his decision on a lawsuit filed by residents and community groups. The judge issued a temporary restraining order against Hudson Companies and Lettire Construction company after opponents of the tower argued that it violated state environmental laws.
“Our clients are pleased that the judge has recognized the potential this tower has to cause irreparable harm to the surrounding community,” said Rachel Hannaford, Senior Staff Attorney at Legal Services NYC’s Brooklyn program, which represents the petitioners alongside law firm Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP. “We understand a TRO of this nature is rare and that its effect will be immediate and powerful.”
David B. Bassett, Partner at WilmerHale, adds, “Our clients hope this decision will encourage Hudson to listen to their concerns, and be open to a more socially and environmentally responsible alternative.”
Residents and community groups in Brooklyn’s Prospect Lefferts Gardens neighborhood filed suit in December, asking that the development of the residential tower in their low-rise, mixed income neighborhood be halted. The lawsuit against the New York State Housing Finance Agency, Hudson Companies Incorporated (a private real estate development company), and other defendants contends that more than $72 million in public funds were approved for the development without the proper environmental impact study required by state law.
Community residents and organizations have formed a coalition to fight the development of the high rise luxury tower. The Prospect Park East Network (PPEN) is not opposed to new construction, but does ask that the development be contextual and respectful of the existing architecture and environment in the neighborhood. Petitioners also include the Flatbush Development Corporation, the Flatbush Tenant Coalition, the Prospect Lefferts Gardens Neighborhood Association (PLGNA), and six individual community residents.