By Matt Chaban
As promised, a group of NYU faculty, preservationists and community groups, a dozen parties in all, have filed a suit against the city over the university’s controversial plans to expand its campus on two superblocks in the heart of Greenwich Village.
The suit charges that the rezoning that allows for the expansion violates a number of technical land-use issues, including the alienation of parkland, prior deed restrictions and the destruction of historic buildings and features within the community. There is also the argument that it will create decades of unmitigated environmental impacts, from pollution to construction noise.
“The CPC and the City Council bought NYU’s premise that they needed to expand in its core in the Village community in order to become a so-called world class university, but the fact is that NYU uses buildings all over New York City,” Mark Crispin Miller, head of NYU Faculty Against the Sexton Plan, said in a statement. “The Sexton Plan has nothing to do with education; it’s a land grab and nothing more, and the City failed to hold NYU accountable.”
The lawsuit calls for the city to reverse its decision to approve the project and seeks to halt any construction or transfer of land until the case can be heard.
“The City and State made a series of erroneous and irrational decisions to overhaul local zoning, alienate public parkland, and green-light NYU’s project, despite the unanimous objection of the local Community Board, the affected communities, historic preservationists, and much of NYU’s own faculty,” said Randy Mastro, a former city official and the groups’ lead attorney on the case.
The administrative suit, and Article 78 filing, was launched by NYU Faculty Against the Sexton Plan, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, Historic Districts Council, Washington Square Village Tenants’ Association, East Village Community Coalition, Friends of Petrosino Square, LaGuardia Corner Gardens, Inc., Lower Manhattan Neighbors Organization, SoHo Alliance, Bowery Alliance of Neighbors, NoHo Neighborhood Association, and 11 individuals.
This is the second suit filed against the school, following on another by residents of some of the neighboring apartment buildings that will be directly effected by the expansion.
Update 9/26:University spokesman John Beckman released the following statement in response to the lawsuit:
NYU’s proposal to build new academic facilities, student dormitories and faculty housing went through a five-year planning and consultation process. The City Planning Commission and City Council overwhelmingly approved NYU’s proposal after holding extensive public hearings and engaging in a thorough and rigorous public review process as required by law. We are confident that we will prevail in court against any claims that are made.