Despite no decision by a state judge to allow the public review phase of the controversial Gowanus rezoning to move forward, the Department of City Planning confidently proclaimed that a ruling can come as early as Monday and in the city's favor.
"A Brooklyn judge indicated she could allow the Gowanus Neighborhood Plan to move into public review Monday," DCP tweeted on Friday. "For that reason, it has been placed on the draft [City Planning Commission] agenda."
DCP went on to say that Draft Environmental Impact Statement—which outlines the consequences to a rezoning in a given neighborhood—"will be posted as soon as possible before certification."
The tweet was retweeted by DCP’s spokesperson, Melissa Grace, who did not explain why she believes State Supreme Court Judge Katherine Levine is moving in favor of allowing the public review process, officially known as the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, to begin. Opponents of the massive rezoning effort in the Brooklyn neighborhood—which would ultimately see 8,200 housing units built in the community by 2035, if approved—won a temporary restraining order in January this year to halt the public review phase, which was to take place days after the order was issued. Critics of the plan, primarily Voice of Gowanus and Friends and Residents of Greater Gowanus, argued that allowing the public review phase to take place virtually over in person violates the City Charter. The city's Law Department disagrees, arguing that if court cases can proceed virtually then there's little reason for why public hearings on the Gowanus rezoning can't happen virtually.
Should Judge Levine clear the city to move foward, it will begin the drawn out review process for the project. Under the plan—one of the last under the de Blasio administration—the city seeks to rezone 80 blocks in Brooklyn, including Carroll Gardens and Park Slope, which are divided by the polluted Gowanus Canal that's currently undergoing a massive cleanup.
Representatives with Voice of Gowanus, said the city's premature victory was a "public relations move to try to misconstrue the status of our lawsuit and the Gowanus rezoning application."
"The city's press blitz at this juncture is misleading, unprofessional, and a deep breach of trust once again by our own public officials," Voice of Gowanus said in a statement. "Unfortunately, the city's clear pattern of disregard for the law, for due process, and for access to the democratic process for all in our community - in its push to ram the Gowanus rezoning through during a pandemic and at the end of the Mayor’s term in office - is all too common."
If the New York City Council approves the new zoning, it will allow developers to build as high as 22 stories, specifically near the canal. Of the 8,200 new apartments build by 2035, some 3,000 are expected to be deemed affordable under the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program that sets aside 20% to 30% of units in new developments as affordable and distributes them through the city's housing lottery. Other amenities include "new open spaces and big resiliency and infrastructure investments to complement efforts to clean up the Gowanus Canal," according to CPC.
Critics of Voice of Gowanus told The Brooklyn Paper that the group is using the court system to delay the proposal from ever making it to City Hall before de Blasio and the majority of the New York City Council leave office this year, halting the project.
The group hinted that Mayor Bill de Blasio should not be celebrating so soon.
"The TRO has not been lifted. Mayor De Blasio, don't count your chickens just yet."