Court Denies All But One Claim in Gedney Association Suit Claiming City Did Not Conduct a Proper Review of the FASNY PROJECT. Gedney has 30 Days to Beef up Argument. Vows it Will Continue the Fight

WPCNR WHITE PLAINS LAW JOURNAL. By John F. Bailey  June 17, 2014 UPDATED 11:10 P.M.:

On Monday, the New York State Supreme Court dismissed all but one complaint filed by the Gedney Association aimed at blocking FASNY’s proposed school project

Upon careful reading of the Judge’s papers this evening by WPCNR , Judge Joan Lefkowitz denied the City of White Plains motion to dismiss the Seventh Claim that accuses the Common Council of violating Public Officers Law.

This last surviving claim asks for an order enforcing the Open Meetings Law and a judgment declaring void the actions taken by the Common Council when they issed the Findings State.

The Judge’s decision  allows 30 days for the Gedney Association to resubmit their framing of this argument naming FASNY and allowing the Gedney Association to expand its argument on this Seventh remaining claim.  

Judge Lefkowitz writes, noting case law involving the Public Officers Law  allows that “the pleading is to be afforded a liberal construction. The facts are presumed to be true, the plaintiff is afforded the benefit of every favorable inference and the court is to determine only whether the facts as alleged fit within any cognizable theory.”

And, again, Judge Lefkowitz notes, citing another case law, that the court, “should not consider documents submitted by respondents in support of dismissal.”

According to the press release from the French American School of New York issued Tuesday afternoon, this lone remaining claim was “sparse and weak.”

In her June 16, 2014 New York State Supreme Court decision, the Hon. Joan B. Lefkowitz dismissed a number of claims challenging the City of White Plains Common Council’s environmental findings on the grounds that they were “nonjusticiable” and not appropriate for adjudication. There was one surviving claim  (the 7th)  that the court labeled as “sparse and weak.”

“This is a very important victory for the French-American School and the City of White Plains,” said Mischa Zabotin, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of FASNY.

Terence Guerriere, President of the Gedney Association gave WPCNR this statement Tuesday evening on Judge Lefkowitz’s ruling:

“I have not seen the FASNY press release so I cannot comment on it.
We are quite pleased with the decision of the Court.  The Court did not dismiss our litigation.  It was determined that that the environmental issues are not ripe at this time for determination by the Court. 
We will be able to assert the same causes of action when and if the Special Permit issue is decided in favor of FASNY.  Of course, had we not sued now, FASNY and the City would have argued when the Special Permit is challenged that we sued too late and should have sued before.  The Court also refused to dismiss the Open Meetings Law claim.
The result: the claims regarding the results of the environmental findings can be brought in full force and effect at a later date.  The Open Meetings Law challenge is alive and we continue the fight at this level.
In the FASNY press release Tuesday afternoon announcing the Judge’s ruling, Misha Zabotin commented:

“We have made significant improvements to our plan including a number of measures that will reduce the impact on traffic in the neighborhood by 50%, a reduction in total enrollment and increased buffers and landscaping around the campus. These improvements were the result of many months of technical study and are consistent with the SEQRA Findings that were supported by a 6-1 vote of the Common Council in December 2013.  We are pleased with the State Supreme Court’s decision and are ready to move forward.”

The lawsuit, filed earlier this year by members of the Gedney Association, claimed the White Plains Common Council did not properly review the environmental impacts of the school’s plan and that its positive findings in favor of the project violated the State Environmental Quality Review Act, or SEQRA.

“We are pleased the court ruled in our favor as there was never any legal grounds for these baseless claims,” said FASNY Attorney Michael Zarin. “The suit filed by the Gedney Association was baseless and a waste of everyone’s time, money and valuable resources, especially the taxpayers of White Plains.”

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