NEW YORK — New York University's expansion project has gotten a boost after an appellate court on Tuesday overturned a lower court ruling that had blocked parts of the $6 billion plan.
The Appellate Division in Manhattan ruled that NYU didn't need approval from the state legislature to develop tiny strips of land currently being used as public parks. The court said the strips of land were not really parks, but had been allowed to be used for "park like purposes" for decades.
In January, State Supreme Court Judge Donna Mills ruled that NYU needed to get permission from the state Legislature for parts of the school's 1.9 million-square-foot expansion because it would impact strips of land being used as public parks.
"Respondents alienated public park land without approval by the New York State Legislature in violation of the Public Trust Doctrine," she wrote.
A coalition of community groups and residents had filed suit against the university in 2012, criticizing the plan. But supporters said the expansion would help NYU's ability to attract top students.
NYU spokesman John Beckman told the Daily News (http://nydn.us/1u2o4y9) they were "very pleased by today's unanimous decision."
The need for additional academic space is clear and "it is now also clear that the University has the legal right to proceed with this project," Beckman said.
Greenwich Society for Historic Preservation, one of the groups fighting the expansion plan, released a statement saying they would appeal the decision.
"We believe the First Department panel made the wrong decision today in overturning Supreme Court Justice Donna Mills' decision preserving and protecting New York City parkland, and allowing the City to give this land away to NYU for its deeply unpopular and bloated expansion plan," said GVSHP Executive Director Andrew Berman.
The area sports row houses and carriage houses dating from the 1820s to the 1850s. The expansion plan calls for four new buildings in the area around Washington Square Park and the demolition of two low-rise buildings.
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