Trees Not Towers Governors Island Legal Fund

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Larger donations please contact us directly via governorsislandcoalitionATgmail.com

Current Goal: $25,000

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(the Trees Not Towers Governors Island Legal Fund donations are processed through More Gardens! Fund)

Support the lawsuit that has been filed against the the New York City Council’s approved 2021 rezoning that paves the way for high-rise high-density development on our unique island public space of completely low-rise structures (historic and other); vast open green spaces; environmental, educational, artistic projects; and countless mature trees. This case is particularly unique among the numerous zoning and greenspace challenges in that there is a DEED involved – which is a good thing. More below.

The Fiscal Sponsor for this legal fund, More Gardens! Fund, is a 501c3 non-profit charity and Your donation is tax-deductible to the full extent allowed by law. Federal EIN#: 52-2415900 NY State Charity #: 41-37-36

No to this

The overview is that, among other things,  the lawsuit asserts that the rezoning is in violation of the Governors Island Deed. Essentially it is an attempt to alter the purpose of NYC’s uniquely welcoming spacious green urban refuge by paving the way for high-rise, high density private development. The Deed was established to “ensure the protection and preservation of the natural, cultural and historic qualities of Governors Island,” so that the Island would serve as “an educational and civic resource of special historic character and as a recreational and open space resource” – not provide a blank canvas for developers.

UPDATE:  An amended version of the lawsuit filed against the 2021 GI rezoning has been submitted to the court. It adds SEQR (environmental) elements to the claims of Deed violations as well as numerous additional plaintiffs.

The Full initial Lawsuit:
https://govislandcoalition.org/news/lawsuit-filed-against-governors-rezoning

The  amended  petition is posted HERE. It adds SEQR (environmental) elements to the claims of Deed violations of the original petition (below) as well as numerous additional plaintiffs. It’s approval by the court is pending.

New Environmental Simulation Center visualizations gallery HERE

Lawsuit Summary/excerpts.

Roger Manning v. City Council Of The City Of New York et al
Index #: 158809/2021
Filed: 9/25/2021 12:10am

ROGER MANNING,
– against –
CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK, BILL DE BLASIO, as Mayor of the City of New York; NEW YORK CITY PLANNING COMMISSION; and THE GOVERNORS ISLAND CORPORATION, d/b/a THE TRUST FOR GOVERNORS ISLAND

CAUSE OF ACTION

THE CITY COUNCIL’S ENACTMENT OF ZONING RESOLUTION TEXT AND MAP AMENDMENTS FOR GOVERNORS ISLAND THAT ARE IN VIOLATION OF COVENANTS IN THE NATIONAL TRUST DEED WAS ARBITRARY AND CAPRICIOUS.

18. The City Council of the City of New York’s May 27, 2021 approval of zoning amendments for Governors Island that are in direct violation of restrictive covenants in the Deed was arbitrary and capricious.

21. The approved zoning violates both the letter and the spirit of the Deed, which was intended to “ensure the protection and preservation of the natural, cultural and historic qualities of Governors Island,” Deed ¶ 2.1, so that the Island would serve as “an educational and civic resource of special historic character and as a recreational and open space resource.” Deed ¶ 2.3, and undermines the island’s primary benefit to everyday New Yorkers from all boroughs as a uniquely welcoming natural spacious urban refuge and area for and arts and education by:

(a) Allowing high-rise (225ft plus) high density (3,775,000M sq ft across 34 acres) development on an island of completely low-rise structures (historic and other), vast open green spaces, and countless mature trees.
(b) Creating parking for 200 vehicles on a traffic free island.
(c) Allowing displacement of a thriving urban farm and other environmental projects.
(d) Boxing in and casting shadows on the open space subarea (current south island parkland), historic district, and Urban Assembly New York Harbor School with high-rise development.
(e) Allowing building heights rising to 3 times the height of and blocking views from the south island’s 70 ft “Outlook Hill.”
(f) Including no provisions regarding architectural style.
(g) Allowing structures to cover 20% of the open space subarea (current parkland).

22. ZR § 134-112 “Permitted uses in the open space subarea” is in blatant violation of the parkland restriction in the deed.

24. […] the current 40 acres of parkland area in the south island area has not been formally dedicated as parkland, but only zoned as “Open Space.” This is significant because zoning can be changed at any time (as we see with this enactment), whereas dedicated parkland cannot be alienated without an express enactment by the State Legislature.

25. Moreover, the zoning as enacted is radically inconsistent with these open spaces being parkland. […]

28. The approved zoning also violates the Deed’s covenants regarding “Prohibited Uses.” Deed ¶ 2.4 lists certain “Prohibited Uses,” which include “Industrial or manufacturing uses,” without limitation.

WHEREFORE, the Petitioner respectfully requests that this Court:
(1) enter a judgment annulling the zoning amendments pertaining to Governors Island approved by the City Council of the City of New York on May 27, 2021 as they directly violate the restrictive covenants governing that property;
(2) grant a permanent injunction prohibiting any construction in violation of the deed covenants.

Larger donations please contact us directly via governorsislandcoalitionATgmail.com

Current Goal: $25,000

Donate to the legal fund

(the Trees Not Towers Governors Island Legal Fund donations are processed through More Gardens! Fund)