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Judge Blocks NYC Housing Development

MANHATTAN (CN) - A New York Supreme Court justice on Wednesday barred New York City from developing affordable housing on the borders of the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Williamsburg and Bedford-Stuyvesant, saying the city's plan would increase segregation in nearby neighborhoods.

Supreme Court Justice Emily Jane Goodman issued the 18-page ruling in Broadway Triangle Community Coalition v. Michael Bloomberg et al.

The city's "chosen developers, non-party United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg, Inc. (UJO), and non-party Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council, Inc. (RBSCC), plan to construct 'affordable' housing within the predominately white Community District 1 (Community 1), the Williamsburg-Greenpoint neighborhood, even though the Broadway Triangle includes land in the overwhelmingly non-white, Community District 3 (Community 3), Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood," Goodman wrote. "The City Council, at the urging of the office of the Mayor, rezoned the industrial area to a residential area, with limited building heights between 70-80 feet. Plaintiffs contend that the rezoning, and the designation of UJO and RBSCC in a no-bid process, to construct and design low rise buildings containing numerous large apartments, despite the general demand for smaller apartments, perpetuates segregation and disproportionately impacts a minority group or groups. Plaintiffs further maintain that defendants have failed to consider and analyze, as required by law, whether other alternatives exist, and that defendants have not demonstrated that their policies and actions are furthered by legitimate interests which cannot be satisfied by lesser or non-discriminatory alternatives. The Court agrees." (Footnotes omitted.)

The New York Civil Liberties Union, which represented the plaintiffs, said in a statement: "The project as proposed would have given priority for the housing to people who live in a predominantly white section of Williamsburg (Community District 1) to the detriment of a neighboring community that is overwhelmingly black (Community District 3). While the Bedford-Stuyvesant area is 77 percent black, a demographer found that only 3 percent of residents in the new housing to be built in the Broadway Triangle would be black."

A city attorney said he plans to "seek an immediate appeal."

"The court mistakenly discounted evidence submitted by the city," said Gabriel Taussig, chief of the city's administrative law division. "After a two-year long temporary restraining order, we are grateful the judge has finally made a decision which now allows us to refute these outlandish claims before an appellate court."

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