EAS not required for NYPD command center

The NYPD to house Joint Operations Command Center in building adjoining One Police Plaza. In 2000, the New York Police Department planned to demolish a two-story building at 109 Park Row in Manhattan and replace it with a nine-story building. After September 11, 2001, the NYPD decided instead to renovate the existing building and create a $13.8 million, 22,000 sq.ft. Joint Operations Command Center. The command center would operate as a state-of-the-art crisis response situation room that would enhance the NYPD’s ability to respond effectively to emergency situations. The building, previously used as a 911 call center, parking garage, and storage facility, was vacated in 2000 to make way for the original construction project.

Chinatown residents, concerned about the project’s effect on traffic and parking, filed an Article 78 petition. They argued the project was subject to the City’s land use review process because it qualified as a site selection for a capital project. They also argued that the NYPD failed to prepare an environmental assessment statement as required by the State’s and City’s environmental review laws.

Justice Michael D. Stallman dismissed the petition, ruling that the project did not amount to a site selection under the City’s land use review law. The court found that the building’s proposed use as a command center did not sufficiently differ from its previous use as a 911 call center so as to qualify the project as a site selection, especially since the project required only interior renovations and the command center would not add a significant amount of new personnel.

The court also ruled that the project did not require an environmental assessment statement because it involved renovating an existing structure that had a substantially similar use to the old facility. The court pointed out that the NYPD planned to update and improve the building’s existing services, that the building’s footprint and height will be unchanged, and that it will only be used during times of emergency or other necessary activity.

Chatham Towers Inc. v. NYPD, 2009 N.Y. Slip Op. 51792 (N.Y.Cty.Sup.Ct. Aug. 18, 2009).

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