A judge ruled in favor of parents at PS 163 on West 97th street last week in a court case over whether the state adequately tested the environmental impact of a new 20-story nursing home set to be built next to the school.
Council member Mark Levine, who has been working with the parents and introduced a bill to curb construction noise levels near schools, said the ruling is “a victory in the push to protect the students of PS 163.”
Parents and neighbors have fought a protracted battle against Jewish Home Lifecare to stop the nursing home construction, because they expect it to significantly disrupt the safety and learning environment of the school, which is right next to the construction site.
The judge “vacated an annulled” the state organization’s decision allowing the nursing home to move ahead because the Department of Health “did not take the requisite hard look at the specific environmental issues.” In particular, the judge said the state failed to properly deal with the lead contamination in the soil and construction noise impacts.
The judge upheld certain aspects of the environmental review, rejecting the plaintiffs’ claims that the traffic analysis was “fatally flawed.”
To move forward, the state and JHL will have to present an amended environmental impact statement.
JHL is still considering whether to appeal, and a spokesperson said in a statement that the organization was “pleased” that the judge rejected seven of nine claims. “We remain committed to working with the school’s parents to identify workable solutions. At the same time, Jewish Home will consider its other options, including appealing the decision. We believe that the New York State Department of Health followed proper and thorough procedures in its review of this proposed urgently-needed pioneering elder care facility.”
“DOH and JHL have two options: either pursue a supplemental EIS focused on the two limited issues which the Court instructed the State and JHL to further review, or pursue an appeal to the Appellate Division. A supplemental EIS could be accomplished in a relatively short period of time as compared to a new, full-blown EIS.
In either case, JHL is proceeding with all steps so as to be ready to start construction when the matter is resolved. Under either scenario—supplemental EIS or appeal—we expect that the previously targeted start of construction, summer 2016, will not be significantly delayed.”
It has already been delayed, however. Excavation was previously slated to start in the fourth quarter of 2014.
The judge’s ruling is below: