Homeless project survives challenge

A not-for-profit proposed to convert two buildings in Ozone Park into homeless services facilities. In July 2016, Common Ground Management Corporation, a not-for-profit organization, applied to the City of New York for approval of a homeless shelter and services project. The non-for-profit organization intended to convert two multistory adjacent buildings in Ozone Park into temporary housing for homeless adults that would provide medical and psychiatric services, meals, laundry, and showers for stays of up to nine months.

Neighbors in the area sued the City of New York to stop the development of the Ozone Park project. The neighbors claimed that the City had unlawfully segmented the environmental review. The neighbors reasoned that the Ozone Park project was part of the City’s 2017 City-wide plan to address homelessness and asserted that the City was required to conduct an environmental review of each project that was part of the 2017 plan.

Queens County Supreme Court Justice Howard G. Lane ruled against the neighbors, finding that the City had not segmented its environmental review. The court found that the City’s 2017 report was a “general agency policy” and the City had not yet identified specific locations to create the homeless shelters. Further, the facilities to be built as part of the City-wide plan would be sponsored by various organizations, built at different times and by different contractors, and would not be dependent on one another.

The Appellate Division, Second Department, affirmed the ruling against the neighbors and dismissed the neighbors’ petition. The court agreed that the City was not engaging in segmentation because the plan in the 2017 report was not considered one single project, noting that the application for the Ozone project was submitted about eight months prior to the 2017 report.

Sandora v. City of N.Y., 130 N.Y.S.3d 61 (2d Dep’t 2020).

By: Elizabeth Valldejuli (Elizabeth is a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2021.)


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