Crown Heights

Fundraising surge for fight against Crown Heights high-rises

April 25, 2019 Lore Croghan
Members of The Movement to Protect the People say shadows from planned developments would harm plants in Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s greenhouses. Eagle file photo by Lore Croghan

A Crown Heights activist group fighting high-rise developments that could cast harmful shadows on the Brooklyn Botanic Garden has seen a spike in its online fundraising since it won a legal victory a week ago.

The Movement to Protect the People received more than $2,000 in donations since then, MTOPP member LaShaun Ellis told the Brooklyn Eagle after the group met on Wednesday night.

From January through mid-April, the tally was about $2,400, she said. There’s a GoFundMe page for the fundraising effort.

She and MTOPP founder Alicia Boyd are petitioners in an Article 78 proceeding about rezoning for high-rise developments at 40 Crown St. and 931 Carroll St.

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Article 78 proceedings are lawsuits against government entities.

A week ago, Brooklyn Civil Supreme Court Justice Johnny Lee Baynes issued a temporary restraining order barring all construction work at those sites, including the pouring of concrete.

The Movement to Protect the People’s LaShaun Ellis (at left) and Alicia Boyd say the group’s online fundraising spiked after a court victory. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
The Movement to Protect the People’s LaShaun Ellis (left) and Alicia Boyd say the group’s online fundraising spiked after a court victory. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

“I’m grateful — and honored people see our cause and support it,” Ellis told the Eagle on Wednesday night.

The individual donations over the past week ranged in size from $5 to $250. The majority of the donors hadn’t previously given money to MTOPP, Ellis said.


Boyd, who founded MTOPP in 2014, told the Eagle the surge in online donations “shows that people are confident in our ability to wage this war.”  

The money will be used to cover expenses and legal fees related to the Article 78 proceeding.

MTOPP also plans to hold a fundraising event this summer.

The Movement to Protect the People is challenging these Crown Heights development projects in court. Rendering via the Department of City Planning
The Movement to Protect the People is challenging these Crown Heights development projects in court. Rendering via the Department of City Planning

Concerns about plants in greenhouses  

The respondents — that’s what defendants are called in Article 78 lawsuits — in MTOPP’s case include the Department of City Planning and other city agencies, City Councilmember Laurie Cumbo and developer Cornell Realty.  

Last week, city Law Department spokesperson Nick Paolucci told the Eagle, “We stand by the city’s review of this project and will defend it in court. This very limited [temporary restraining order] enjoins us from pouring concrete which is many months away.”

Paolucci said soil tests were ongoing at the development sites.

A hearing scheduled for May 3 has been postponed at the respondents’ request, Boyd said on Wednesday night.

In late 2018, the City Council approved zoning changes for 40 Crown St., 931 Carroll St. and a third site that allow for the construction of 175-foot-tall, 16-story towers. Shadows cast by towers of that height would hurt the plants growing in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s greenhouses and conservatories, MTOPP members warn.

The 52-acre garden is a major recreational and cultural resource for Brooklyn residents and a big tourist draw. More than 900,000 visitors pass through its gates annually. Its most popular event, the Cherry Blossom Festival or Sakura Matsuri, is scheduled to take place this weekend.

MTOPP also opposes the high-rise construction proposed at the Spice Factory site. Development plans for the property at 960 Franklin Ave. are undergoing public scrutiny in a Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, or ULURP.

Follow reporter Lore Croghan on Twitter.

 


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