Federal Court Ruling Aids Plant Opponents
By JORDAN MOSS
Two months after a state court ruled in favor of local opponents of a city plan to build a filtration plan at Mosholu Golf Course in Van Cortlandt Park, a federal court appears to have strengthened the decision by leaving the door open to future challenges.
In February, at the federal court's request, the state's highest court - the Court of Appeals - considered the matter and ruled that the city cannot proceed with its plan to disrupt the park for the 23-acre plant without the approval of the state legislature. In turn, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, a federal court, has accepted that decision, thereby reversing a lower federal court's decision to let the project go forward, and ruled that it will not consider other of the plaintiffs' objections under state law until the city gets state legislative approval.
In their suit, The Friends of Van Cortlandt Park and the Parks Council had also argued that the city failed to rezone the park site, and that the environmental impact statement for the plant failed to take into consideration aspects of the plant's size and scope.
The Second Circuit Court said, however, that it would not rule on those matters unless the city obtained state legislative approval. "We decline to consider other issues," the court wrote, "without prejudice to the renewal of such issues in the event that legislative approval of the proposed project is obtained and a subsequent appeal is taken."
Plant opponents see the ruling as a victory because, even if the city is able to secure the state legislature's permission to build the plant in Van Cortlandt Park - something local lawmakers think highly unlikely - there still would be additional legal hoops for the city to jump through.
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