Judge says ‘Domi-YES’ in dismissing suit against sugar refinery redevelopment

Judge says ‘Domi-YES’ in dismissing suit against sugar refinery redevelopment
The redevelopment of the former Domino Sugar factory along the Williamsburg waterfront is moving forward, thanks to a judge's dismissal of a lawsuit against the project.

A judge has dismissed a lawsuit seeking to halt development at the former Domino Sugar refinery, ruling on Tuesday that the city broke no rules when it rezoned the industrial site for housing.

Supreme Court Judge Eileen Rakower said that the city’s land-use and environmental review met all legal requirements, clearing the way for construction to begin on the waterfront site along Kent Avenue by late 2012, said Susan Pollack, vice president of the developer, Community Preservation Resources Corporation.

“We are gratified by the unequivocal and swift decision,” Pollack added.

Pollack’s firm purchased the landmarked Refinery building and several neighboring lots in 2003 with plans to develop 2,200 units of housing with retail space and a quarter-mile-long riverfront park.

Some community leaders, such as Assemblyman Vito Lopez (D–Williamsburg) and Councilman Steve Levin (D–Williamsburg) demanded a higher percentage of below-market rate units. Others called for fewer units altogether — arguing that the neighborhood’s streets, schools and subways could not support an influx of thousands of families.

The project ended up getting approved unanimously by the City Council last July. But that didn’t halt a suit by a half-dozen Williamsburg residents, who charged the site’s developer and city agencies with “wrongfully excluding the citizenry from meaningful participation in a project of unprecedented impact” in a “bait and switch” deal.

The group, which calls itself Williamsburg Community Preservation Corporation in a play on the development company’s name — is now considering an appeal of Tuesday’s dismissal.

Meanwhile, some area leaders are crowing about the project, which would set aside 30 percent of its units — about 660 apartments — at below-market rates. It would also revive a stagnant section of the waterfront.

The ruling, said Councilwoman Diana Reyna (D–Williamsburg), is “great news.”

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