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Court Greenlights Restarting Gowanus Rezoning Effort

The Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn

After being stalled for months, the city’s proposal to rezone part of Gowanus can move forward after the state Supreme Court lifted a restraining order on the plans.

Community groups Voice of Gowanus and Friends and Residents of Greater Gowanus had railed against the rezoning and filed a lawsuit claiming it was illegal to hold virtual public hearings about the proposed land use changes, Crain’s New York Business reports. 

But state Supreme Court Justice Katherine Levine lifted the order that was holding it up Monday, although city and community groups now have to submit proposals to “memorialize” the terms of the removing order. The city had previously argued the ban on public meetings meant the groups' suit was meritless. 

“The proposed Gowanus Neighborhood Plan will be presented to the City Planning Commission to begin the city's public land use review process today,” Department of City Planning spokesperson Melissa Grace told Crain's. “We are grateful for the ongoing attention to this case by Justice Levine, and we will continue to work with the court and the community to ensure that the plan, which has been in the making for many years, is widely reviewed.”

The proposed rezoning the city put forward in October aimed to create 5,000 market-rate units and 3,000 affordable units. As the city has faced an ongoing trifecta of housing, economic and health crises, the ethics of rezonings have been debated by advocates and public officials alike — with multiple rezonings caught up in litigation and community opposition.

Last November, years of dispute over the Inwood rezoning came to a close when the appellate branch of the New York State Supreme Court declined to hear community group Inwood Legal Defense Fund’s appeal of a July decision that restored the rezoning and allowed it to go ahead.

An earlier judgment had sided with a community group that had opposed the land use changes that had originally been approved back in 2018. The city said at the time that the rezoning, which will allow for buildings between 18 and 30 stories tall to be built in the area east of 10th Avenue, would result in around 1,600 new affordable units between city-owned sites and under the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program.

In September, a proposed rezoning of Industry City went down in flames after Jamestown Properties, Belvedere Capital and Angelo Gordon & Co. pulled their application to rezone Industry City following community backlash. Council Member Carlos Menchaca, who represents Sunset Park, had opposed the application.

Related Topics: Gowanus, Gowanus rezoning