By Gregg McQueen
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Community stakeholders have filed a motion to appeal a July decision by the New York State Supreme Court that would uphold the city’s plan to rezone Inwood.
The appeal is being filed with the New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court.
In a 5-0 ruling issued on July 23, a panel of Supreme Court Appellate Division judges reversed an earlier decision by Justice Verna Saunders to invalidate the city’s rezoning plan.
Advocacy group Northern Manhattan Is Not For Sale and other individual plaintiffs had sued to block the rezoning, approved by the City Council in 2018, contending that the city failed to properly study the impact on residents of color and minority-owned businesses, as well as other consequences.
“This application presents legal questions made more critical by our national conversation about racial equity and justice,” said Michael Sussman, attorney for the plaintiffs. “If our institutions do not analyze how their proposed major policy decisions will affect people of color, then how can we move toward racial justice? Refusing to study potential and likely impacts is tantamount to benign neglect and is wholly unacceptable. We also believe it is not contemplated by the laws which require review of major projects before they are approved.”
“In its defense arguments, the city said it is not required to review every adverse effect of rezonings, so they didn’t study them. They’re basically saying they don’t care,” said Cheryl Pahaham, Co-Chair of Inwood Legal Action, a constituent group of the Northern Manhattan Is Not For Sale coalition.
The city must reply to the motion by August 31.