Volume 17 • Issue 15 | SEPTEMBER 3 - 10, 2004

Residents, M.S.G. sue to stop Hudson Yards project

By Albert Amateau

The Hell’s Kitchen Neighborhood Association and Madison Sq. Garden sued the city and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority last week to stop the land-use review currently underway for the city’s far-reaching Hudson Yards redevelopment project.

The action filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan on Aug. 26 contends that the 4,000-plus-page draft environmental impact statement for the 42-block West Side project from 29th to 43rd Sts. between Ninth Ave. and the Hudson River is “incomplete and fatally deficient.”

The H.K.N.A., a group of residents and small businesses in the project area, joined by the owners of Madison Sq. Garden contend that the D.E.I.S. does not give sufficient information on the project’s impact on traffic congestion, air pollution, noise, water supply, sewage and hazardous waste for the public to take part in the city’s Uniform Land-Use Review Procedure.

Madison Sq. Garden has been fighting the proposed New York Sports and Convention Center stadium that is associated with the Hudson Yards redevelopment project, which also includes an expanded Javits Convention Center. While the D.E.I.S. outlines some of the stadium impacts, the city and state claim the proposed stadium and convention center expansion are exempt from city ULURP review because they are state property. The M.T.A. is a defendant in the suit because the agency owns the rail yards, which are to be decked over for the redevelopment project.

Susan Amron, deputy chief of environmental law for the city Law Department, said the department would soon file an answer to the suit.

“We are confident that City Planning is doing a thorough environmental review that is still ongoing,” Amron added.

City Planning Department officials have spoken at several forums on the Hudson Yards redevelopment, saying the city would address community complaints about the draft E.I.S. during the course of the review procedure.

The lawsuit, however, says the community would not have enough time to play a serious role in the review process. “The D.E.I.S. does not have a whole array of information about potential adverse environmental impacts that [City Planning] promised they would provide, and were legally required to provide,” the suit says, adding, “The public review process that is now underway represents the only opportunity for petitioners to consider the project’s potential impact … and thereby provide meaningful input into the project.”

The suit seeks to annul the City Planning Department’s certification of the draft environmental impact statement. The action calls for an injunction staying the ULURP review, including a Sept. 23 City Planning Commission public hearing. The action seeks to suspend the review until the city “has complied with the law by preparing a legally adequate D.E.I.S. and accepting a complete application for this project.”

The Hudson Yards plan would transform the area to allow development of 28 million sq. ft. of office space, 12.6 million sq. ft. of residential space, commercial towers as tall as 80 stories along 11th Ave., 20 acres of new parkland — ncluding a park and boulevard between 10th and 11th Aves. — and a $2 billion extension of the No. 7 subway across 42nd St. to 11th Ave. and down to 34th St. Some Lower Manhattan advocates argue the project will compete with the efforts to rebuild office space at the World Trade Center site.

In a related but separate project, the city and state propose the stadium for a deck above the rail yards between 12th and 11th Aves. and the expansion of the Javits Convention Center.

But the plaintiffs say the lawsuit is not about any of that. It is only concerned with the government’s obligation to follow “a process that protects petitioners’ right to informed and meaningful participation,” the suit says.

The state and city Environmental Quality Review Acts require the city to ensure that a D.E.I.S. provides adequate public disclosure of environmental issues raised by a project before accepting the statement as complete, the suit says.

In regard to traffic congestion, the draft E.I.S. fails to provide a worst-case scenario of the impact from the largest events held concurrently at the expanded convention center and the stadium, the suit says.

In regard to noise and air quality, the draft fails to fully assess impacts and to describe in detail ways to mitigate excess noise and below-standard air quality, the suit says.

The suit also says the draft does not present assessments of what hazardous wastes are present in the project area.


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