Feb. 10, 2020 By Allie Griffin
A supreme court judge tossed out a lawsuit Friday filed last year by a number of civic groups that alleged that the City didn’t conduct a thorough study of a Cooper Avenue site before determining that it was a suitable location for a 200-bed homeless shelter.
A group of residents and local civic associations, including the Glendale Property Owners Association, filed suit on Nov. 12 against the City of New York and the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) as part of their quest to stop the site from becoming a shelter.
The plaintiffs argued that the City approved the site of 78-16 Cooper Ave. for the shelter before conducting the legally-necessary reviews, including an environmental review required by the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA), in which concerns regarding the impact on community character, public services, traffic and other issues are evaluated.
The suit alleges that the City failed to complete the environmental review before announcing the planned shelter.
But Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Carol Edmead rejected the plaintiffs’ argument, stating that they misinterpreted the environmental review process rules and that the timing of the city’s decision was in order.
Edmead also said the City’s review, which determined that converting the warehouse to a shelter would not have a significant impact on the community, was satisfactory.
The Department of Social Services viewed the ruling as a victory.
“This ruling is a win for New Yorkers experiencing homelessness who will now have the opportunity to get back on their feet,” Department of Social Services spokesperson Isaac McGinn said.
“With the court recognizing our vital need for these beds and dismissing this counter-productive lawsuit, we are proceeding as soon as possible with opening this first-of-its-kind facility in this Queens community.”
The plaintiffs, however, plan to appeal the court ruling, their attorney confirmed.
Council Member Robert Holden — who has been an outspoken critic of the Cooper Avenue shelter —said he was hopeful that the lawsuit would do better in the appellate division.
“I know from experience that the case will get a much more thorough and fair review in the appeals court,” he said.
The shelter is expected to open in early 2020, according to DHS. However, there are a number of outstanding building code issues that have to be resolved before it can operate.
The Department of Buildings (DOB) conducted an audit and found issues with the renovation plans.
The building owner has already reached out to the DOB to work on resolving the issues, a DOB spokesperson said.