Lawsuit Challenges Zoom Hearings on Gowanus Rezoning Plan

Planning departments relying on online public hearing processes will want to keep monitor this lawsuit in New York City.

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January 18, 2021, 5:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Brooklyn, New York City

Featherweight Photography / Shutterstock

Opponents of the Gowanus Neighborhood Planning Study allege that Zoom meetings do not allow the amount of public engagement required by the city's Uniform Land Use Review Procedure process.

Kevin Duggan reports: "Opponents of the Gowanus rezoning plan to sue the city Friday, alleging the Department of City Planning’s virtual Zoom hearings don’t allow for enough public review for the neighborhood-wide land use changes."

Attorney Jason Zakai is representing the plaintiff in the lawsuit—anti-rezoning group Voice of Gowanus. "There are detailed, step-by-step rules laid out in City law on how to conduct the public review process. They are there for a reason, and the City must follow them, even if that means waiting until the pandemic is over," says Zakai in the article.

The lawsuit aims to shut down the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure for the Gowanus Neighborhood Planning Study until the pandemic is under control and the Department of City Planning can resume normal public hearings ("normal" public hearings, it should be noted, are well documented as favoring wealthier, whiter voices).

"The city is scheduled to officially certify the Gowanus rezoning on Tuesday, Jan. 19, kicking off the roughly seven-to-nine-month public review process," according to Duggan.

In June, advocates who support the Gowanus rezoning pushed to move the process forward despite the constraints of the pandemic.

Friday, January 15, 2021 in Brooklyn Paper

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