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Old Posted May 5, 2015, 9:03 AM
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Albany pols support last-ditch effort to block NYU expansion



Quote:
Two dozen state lawmakers filed an amicus brief in support of a last-ditch effort to block the expansion of New York University in Greenwich Village.

The legislators, most of whom are Manhattan Democrats, argue that the City Council, in voting to approve NYU's expansion plan in 2012, overstepped its bounds and may have violated the public trust doctrine, a principle of common law directing that the government preserve natural resources for public use.

Opponents claim NYU lacks the right to build on some city-owned lots because the parcels have been used as parkland and deserve to be characterized as such. Only the state Legislature can authorize NYU to use public parkland, in this case a dog-run, playground and community garden, for private development, they say.

"The law is clear that NYU should have sought the approval of the New York State Legislature for the alienation of this public parkland, but the only thing the university ended up alienating was the goodwill of the Greenwich Village community," said Sen. Brad Hoylman, a Manhattan Democrat, in a statement.

"The desire to assist a powerful private institution should not obviate the normal processes of government," added Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, who is a leading plaintiff in the case against the expansion plan.

Last February, the New York State Court of Appeals granted opponents a chance to appeal a lower court's ruling to allow the university's plan to go forward. The parcels in question carry no formal parkland designation.

Several groups, including the New York State Council of Mayors and Municipal Officials, the Association of Towns of the State of New York and the cities of Rochester and Syracuse, have taken NYU's side, in part to preserve localities' right to approve projects independent of the state Legislature.

A spokesman for the university warned that a ruling in favor of the opponents would have dire consequences of future development.

"There's a serious public policy issue at stake here," he said. "If the court rules for the plaintiffs, a temporary public use of government land—for something like a community garden—would forever limit future uses, which would have two interrelated detrimental effects on public policy in New York state. It would either hamstring municipal governments from making beneficial use of municipal land—be it providing low-income housing to those in need or providing space for educational facilities—or, because town and city governments would lose control of land if the public was allowed to use it temporarily for things like municipal gardens, governments would be much less likely to permit those uses."
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http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article...-nyu-expansion
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