NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York University’s expansion project can’t move forward without state approval, a judge ruled Tuesday.
State Supreme Court Judge Donna Mills in Manhattan ruled that NYU needs to get permission from the state Legislature for its 1.9 million-square-foot expansion that impacts strips of land being used as public parks.
“Respondents alienated public park land without approval by the New York State Legislature in violation of the Public Trust Doctrine,” she wrote.
A coalition of community groups and residents had filed suit against the school in 2012. The expansion plan has been criticized by those who say it would destroy the historic Greenwich Village neighborhood. Supporters have said the expansion would help its ability to attract top students.
Randy Mastro, lawyer for the suing groups, said the decision “is a huge victory for the Greenwich Village community, preserving this historic neighborhood and protecting its precious parkland.”
He expressed doubt that NYU could get legislative approval, pointing out that one of the plaintiffs in the suit is state Assembly member Deborah Glick.
In a statement, NYU said the decision was a “complex ruling” that reaffirmed the city’s approval of the project.
“Once we have a chance to thoroughly review the decision with our planning team and determine the precise impact of the ruling on our ability to implement other elements of the plan, we will work with the city, as lead respondent, to determine our next legal steps,” spokesman John Beckman said.
The city said the decision was under review.
The NYU expansion plan calls for removing the four open spaces for an addition to the campus valued at about $2 million. The land would be used for part of the footprint of the school’s new “Zipper Building,” according to published reports.
Actor Matthew Broderick is among the Village residents who have been fighting NYU.
The area sports row houses and carriage houses dating from the 1820s to the 1850s. The expansion plan calls for four new buildings in the area around Washington Square Park and the demolition of two low-rise buildings.
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