Suit filed challenging Ikea’s approval

Suit claims environmental study was flawed and Council’s approval violated City land use plans. Five Brooklyn residents and the Coalition to Revitalize Our Waterfront Now, a citizen group formed in 2003 to advocate for sustainable waterfront development in Red Hook, filed suit in Supreme Court on February 8, 2005, seeking to void the City’s approval of an Ikea superstore on a 22-acre site along Brooklyn’s Erie Basin.

Ikea received the City’s final approval in October 13, 2004 for a proposed 346,000 sq.ft. furniture store that would be the largest Ikea in the U.S. The development required a zoning amendment, special approvals to exceed size and height limits, and a finding that it was consistent with the City’s coastal zone management plan.

The article 78 petition claims that the City acted arbitrarily by approving a flawed environmental impact statement, a zoning text change that constituted illegal “spot zoning” and a development that conflicted with the City’s zoning plans. The petition, which named the Commission, its Chair Amanda M. Burden and others, contends that the City’s FEIS underestimated the car trips to Ikea and the volume of customers that will use Red Hook’s narrow streets. It also failed to study the project’s impact on Red Hook’s strengthened residential market or the ultimate loss of 22- acres of working waterfront.

The petition further alleges that Ikea’s approval conflicted with Redhook’s 197-a plan and the City’s 1992 Waterfront Plan, which designated Erie Basin as an area where working waterfront uses should be fostered because it is the only fully protected deep-water, waterfront area in Brooklyn. Under the Waterfront Plan, Erie Basin is one of only six working waterfront areas in the City.

The City has until April 15, 2005 to respond based on an extension granted by the petitioners.

For details on the approval of Ikea’s five separate applications by the City Council and the Planning Commission, see 1 CityLand 20 (November 15, 2004), 1 CityLand 5 (October 15, 2004).

Coalition to Revitalize Our Waterfront Now v. NYC, Index No. 101955/05, (Feb. 8, 2004) (N.Y.Cty.Sup.Ct.) (Antonia Levine Bryson, Esq., Urban Environmental Law Center, for Coalition).

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