Council candidate threatens lawsuit over Greenpoint high-rises

September 5, 2013 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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How high is too high? When it comes to residential construction in Brooklyn, the answer depends on where the apartment house in being built.

Plans by developers to construct two 40-story luxury condo buildings on the waterfront in Greenpoint have come under fire from residents and civic activists in that community, who charged that the new high-rise structures, to be called Greenpoint Landing and 77 Commercial Street, will bring too many new residents to an already crowded neighborhood and strain the infrastructure and transportation system.

Stephen Pierson, a candidate in the Democratic primary for the City Council seat in the neighborhood, threatened to file a lawsuit to try to block the developments from moving forward. Pierson said he will push to have the building caped at 15 or 20 stories.

On Wednesday, Pierson spoke at a protest rally held at the corner of Commercial and Dupont streets, across the street from the lot where the tower is to be constructed. He announced that he had met with lawyers earlier in the day and was moving forward with plans to sue the city.

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“Based on the advice of our attorney, we will be proceeding with an Article 78 lawsuit against the city of New York to halt these totally irresponsible, oversized, unacceptable projects,” Pierson told the protesters.

An article 78 lawsuit is a proceeding used to appeal the decision of New York State or local agency to the New York.

“The developers are relying on an out of date and an incomplete Environmental Impact Survey done more than eight years ago, which provides more than sufficient grounds for a lawsuit. We cannot allow unaccountable developers and absentee elected officials to consign our community to a future of failed infrastructure in the name of more luxury condos,” Pierson said.

Councilman Stephen Levin (D-Greenpoint-Williamsburg), who currently represents the neighborhood and who is trying to fend off a challenge from Pierson in the Democratic Primary on Sept. 10, told DNA Info that he also opposes the high-rise development. Levin also told the website that he isn’t sure if an Article 78 proceeding is the most effective way to go. Levin stated that he is exploring legal options.

The Sept. 4 rally, which was organized by the grass-roots group Save Greenpoint, drew approximately 100 residents, many of them carrying signs reading “Stop the Tower” and “The Roof Is Too Damn High.”

The peaceful protest took place at the corner of Commercial Street and Dupont Street, across from the lot where one of the planned 40-story towers are to be built.

Protesters took turns speaking about their fears with the impending development. “It’s going to totally collapse under the weight of 20,000 new people,” one protester said.

Pierson said that is the Article 78 lawsuit succeeds, it would require a new Environmental Impact Study that would have to take into account the effects of the project on Greenpoint infrastructure. It would delay the development until the inauguration of a new mayoral administration, which might be more amenable to localized down-zoning, Pierson said.

The height of the building is allowable under the law because of a change in the city’s zoning rules for the North Brooklyn waterfront that was approved in 2005.

Pierson’s lawsuit would seek to roll back that zoning change.

Representatives of the Park Towers Group, the developer of Greenpoint Landing, did not return phone calls from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Members of the Chetrit Group, which is the developer for 77 Commercial Street, also did not return phone calls.



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