March 26 (Bloomberg) -- Residents of a group of high-rise buildings in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village appealed a judge’s decision to dismiss their lawsuit seeking to block New York University’s expansion plans.
Tenants of Washington Square Village sued the school in August, seeking a court order stopping the university from taking any action to eliminate a two-acre park in the center of the cluster of buildings or to remove a commercial strip and garden that form the park’s boundary.
New York State Supreme Court Justice Ellen M. Coin on March 14 denied their request for a preliminary injunction and dismissed the suit, saying the plaintiffs first need to raise the matter with the state’s Division of Housing and Community Renewal. The tenants filed a notice of appeal today.
They intend to ask the appeals court whether the school can “unilaterally eliminate a required ancillary service” when case law shows that rent-stabilized tenants in the city have a right to a garden or park and that landlords can’t eliminate them without an administrative proceeding, according to the notice.
The tenants said they will also ask whether they’re entitled to an injunction to “preserve the status quo” while they file complaints with the Division of Housing and Community Renewal, and whether the lower court abused its discretion in dismissing the case.
The New York City Council voted in July to let New York University add 1.9 million square feet to the campus for classrooms, a gym and housing in the face of objections from residents and faculty who said it would change the character of the neighborhood.
The $6 billion expansion is opposed by dozens of university departments and divisions and has sparked lawsuits from community residents and faculty members. Professors in the university’s largest school passed a vote of no-confidence in President John Sexton on March 16, saying he failed to consult with them on the plan.
Sexton, 70, has been at the helm since 2002. While he has raised the profile of the school, overseeing a record $3 billion in fundraising, he has alienated faculty and angered locals with the expansion plan. His proposal for construction in the neighborhood, called NYU 2031, is opposed by 39 of the university’s departments and divisions, according to NYU Faculty Against the Sexton Plan, a teachers’ group.
The case is WSV Green Neighbors Inc. v. New York University, 155507/2012, State Supreme Court, New York County (Manhattan).
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