the full decision was uploaded by brownstoner...read it here.
The Honorable Supreme Court Justice Peter Moulton has rendered his decision, and the answer (and now I jump to the legalese) is ixnay on oppingstay the ojectpray. 626 Flatbush may proceed as planned.
I just read the decision and the pro bono team representing the petitioners did a nice job of laying out the case against the State Housing Finance Agency for not conducting proper environmental review. In essence, the judge concurs with the complaint that the review was not thorough, but states that it was sufficient in this case, given that the building is being built as of right and poses negligible impact on the neighborhood, that being his opinion, and his being the opinion that matters in this case. The judge is unwilling to suggest that the zoning itself might be wrong for the plot's "environment," and therefore, despite the fact that this project is supposed to be reviewed in accordance with a strict process spelled out in the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act, hey, why bother. That particular law (known as SEQRA) seems to have been designed to prevent unwieldy urban and suburban sprawl, but neatly applies in the case of 626, which it occurs to me is an example of the NYC equivalent of sprawl...UP, not out. Granted, some upward sprawl is necessary, but IMO, how and high and where must be weighed carefully and often. That's what SEQRA is supposed to do, and in the opinion of many, what it did NOT do.
Okay, that paragraph was a mouthful, but the fact is the zoning is super wrong in the first place, so basing a verdict on a wrong premise just shows you really CAN'T fight City Hall. And while the lawsuit loses this round (an expedited appeal is likely), you gotta blame the lack of attention to planning in our neighborhood, and the blame can be shared widely. Whatever. It was a longshot, given that the City and State generally encourage development of all sorts, and the fact that 20% affordable housing sounds, on the face of it, pretty swell to most cursory onlookers. Problem is, of course, an awful lot of people priced out now won't even qualify because they make too MUCH money, and while CB9 residents will likely get preference, it will be from throughout the district, not just around the park. As I'm acutely learning from the zoning process, CB9 is quite big and encompasses a heck of a lot diversity beyond the mosaic of Lefferts. PPEN vows to fight on, not just through the appeals process, but beyond, and to try to work towards preserving what's best about the neighborhood, and fighting the forces that would tear it apart.
Bottom line though, we can most likely look forward to a couple of years of construction, followed by a few hundred new neighbors, who will undoubtedly be lovely people, and in time, given the breakneck pace of development around here, 626 Flatbush will become but a reminder of an opportunity missed. The height will undoubtedly cause other developers to salivate, but as the folks from City Planning reminded us, there aren't a whole heck of a lot of lots out there - even if you buy up a bunch - that would allow for another tower so tall. I'm not so sure about that. That's why rezoning is a must. Now.
The silver linings? Well, the neighborhood has not been so organized, feisty and informed in years. People are waking up from what might be called a long post-crack-epidemic, post-9/11 civic slumber. I know I'm always saying it, but WE'RE the adults now, and it's time to start acting like it. We still have a say in how our community hangs together and grows, and it's time to start flexing some muscle and listening to each other. PLGNA, PPEN, CB9, The Parkside Empire Merchants Association...there's a new energy and passion out there. I'm buckled up...y'all ready for the ride?
The Q at Parkside
News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.