A state Supreme Court judge partially lifted a temporary restraining order related to the project Thursday, but the public review process is still on hold.
The Department of City Planning (DCP) released the land use application for its Gowanus rezoning proposal after a state Supreme Court judge partially lifted a temporary restraining order related to the project Thursday. However, in compliance with the judge’s order, the city can not yet move forward with certifying the plan—which would officially start the public review process—or release its environmental review to the public yet.
The Gowanus proposal would rezone 80 blocks and could bring thousands of new apartments to the Brooklyn neighborhood. The city was expected to certify the plan on Jan. 19, starting the public review or Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) process, but it was put on hold after a judge issued a temporary injunction in response to a lawsuit filed by community group Voice of Gowanus.
The lawsuit, filed against the de Blasio administration and DCP, alleges the city did not follow pre-certification notice requirements and that virtual hearings being held during the COVID-19 pandemic are an inadequate replacement for in-person public meetings. The group wants ULURP for the rezoning postponed until in-person gatherings can resume.
After Judge Katherine Levine heard arguments from both parties on Thursday, she ruled that the city would be allowed to release the plan’s land use application — a detailed summary of what’s being proposed — but not certify the rezoning. DCP published the application on its website Friday afternoon.
“I am not ruling on the certification yet, but my predisposition is that I will allow it to be certified,” Judge Levine said Thursday. She adjourned the second half of the hearing until Feb. 2. Until then, the city is not permitted to move forward with the proposal, or release the draft environmental impact statement (DEIS), which assesses the impact a proposed project may have in a neighborhood.
The delay has become a point of contention for other Gowanus community groups and residents, who have been involved in the planning process for years and were eager for the public review to get started. A number of neighborhood stakeholders, including local NYCHA leaders and 44 Brooklyn Community Board 6 members, sent a letter (below) to DCP Chair Marisa Lago earlier this week saying they want the process to move forward.
Another group, Gowanus Residents Owners and Workers (GROW), has filed over two dozen affidavits and supportive exhibits in court in support of the rezoning plan.
“Many of GROW’s members and supporters have devoted countless hours working with DCP to craft the Gowanus Plan,” one court filing from the group read. It accused the lawsuit’s plaintiffs, Voice of Gowanus, of trying to run the ULURP clock out on the Gowanus plan until the next city administration takes office next year.
“The Petitioners’ concern is not that they won’t be heard, it is that they won’t be listened to. Therefore, they seek to prevent anyone else from being heard,” the filing reads.