Judge to city: ‘Stay’ out of Broadway Triangle

Judge to city: ‘Stay’ out of Broadway Triangle
The Brooklyn Paper / Ben Muessig

The city’s bid to develop affordable housing in South Willamsburg stumbled this week, when a Manhattan judge refused to move forward on a lawsuit against the plan because the federal government is still investigating one of the city’s nonprofit development partners.

Judge Emily Goodman’s denial continues her stay on a lawsuit filed by opponents of the Broadway Triangle alleging that the city’s rezoning plan discriminated against black and Latino residents because it will result in large housing units to accommodate a growing Hasidic population at the expense of other impoverished communities.

The Bloomberg administration and two nonprofit development partners, the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council and the United Jewish Organizations had hoped to begin construction of 1,851 units of housing on three city-owned lots near Throop Avenue late last year, after the City Council passed the rezoning in December, 2009.

But the lawsuit filed the day after the vote stalled those plans — and the case has been in court ever since.

But in the interim, two federal agencies and the state Attorney General launched investigations into Ridgewood Bushwick’s contracts and connections to its founder, Assemblyman Vito Lopez (D–Bushwick).

Citing those investigations, Goodman rejected the city’s motion to get the case moving already.

“The present litigation has been stayed by this court because the issues raised are simultaneously under investigation by the U.S. Attorney, which is also, it appears, investigating UJO’s co-developer, Ridgewood Bushwick.”

Some political insiders thought that Goodman’s Wednesday ruling was easily anticipated. After all, five days earlier, Mayor Bloomberg used his weekly radio address to criticize Goodman — by name — for several unrelated rulings, including a recent decision to prevent the city from laying off nine deputy sheriffs.

Goodman subsequently told the New York Law Journal that “attacks on judges … may have the effect on some pole of interfering with judicial independence.”

Not that she mentioned that in her ruling this week, of course.