Court upholds LMDC on review of memorial design

9/11 victims’ families sought to preserve North Tower’s footprint. Family members of victims of the World Trade Center attack formed a coalition to represent and express their views on the plans for a memorial at the site. In January 2004 the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation selected a memorial design, which included the preservation of some portions of the North Tower’s slab floor, most commonly referred to as “the footprint.” In March 2004, after the site was designated eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, the LMDC entered into a programmatic agreement that set forth the project’s historic preservation requirements subject to consultation. The agreement, which was distributed to the Coalition, stated that the slab floor was not one of the historic elements the LMDC would try to preserve. Finally, in June 2004, the LMDC issued a decision, which stated that it had complied with the review requirements of the National Historic Preservation Act.

On March 11, 2006, the Coalition filed an article 78 petition, claiming that the LMDC had failed to fulfill the consultation and mitigation requirements relating to the plans’ impact on the slab floor in the Public Buildings Law and Parks, Recreation, Conservation and Historic Preservation Law. They further claimed that the slab floor was sacred ground; it should be preserved in its entirety and should be visible without obstruction.

Justice Shirley Werner Kornreich dismissed the petition, ruling that the LMDC had complied with the required historic review process. It had fulfilled its responsibilities under the National Historic Preservation Act and there was no obligation to consult or mitigate with respect to the slab once the agreement was adopted. The requirements under both the PBL and the PRCHP law had been met when the LMDC complied with the National Historic Preservation Act. The court praised the LMDC for continuing to involve the families in the process even though its obligation had ended.

Coalition of 9/11 Families v. LMDC, Index No. 103362/06, May 11, 2006 (N.Y.Cty.Supt.Ct.) (Kornreich, J.).

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