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NEW YORK CITY-For Westsiders for Public Participation, a local community organization, is expecting to further an area lawsuit Thursday night, when it plans to hold a public meeting in an attempt to “highlight the New York City Department of Buildings’ negligence on neighborhoods in the city.” According to a prepared statement “these issues are endemic to the DOB and are not going to be solved by [Commissioner] Patricia Lancaster‘s departure.”

The organization was recently formed by Paul Bunten, an area resident who has filed suit in attempt to force the developer of the proposed “Columbus Village” to comply with land use regulations and respond to community interests. The suit was filed against the DOB and 11 other defendants, plus 20 “John Doe” defendants, which are expected to be named at a later date. Queries to the DOB were unreturned by deadline, but in a previous article, which revealed the suit, a DOB spokesperson told GlobeSt.com that “we are awaiting the legal papers and will review them thoroughly.”

Columbus Village is a commercial and residential development being built amid the affordable housing complex, Park West Village, owned by PWV Acquisitions. The proposed development plans for more than 320,000 sf of retail space, an underground parking garage and five residential towers.

The complaint, styled Bunten v. DOB et al, requests that the Court compel the DOB to perform its administrative duty to enforce New York City zoning provisions, so that the citizens of the community can participate in a public review process to protect the character of their community and their environmental rights. The suit asks for an injunction to stop construction, pending review of the zoning violations and all environmental issues.

The group’s attorney, Jack Lester, who specializes in land use, will answer questions regarding the current lawsuit at the meeting, where more than a couple hundred of people are expected to attend. “We have asked our council member Melissa Mark-Viverito–District 8–to call a public hearing on the DOB’s failure to properly uphold the zoning law with respect to the ‘Columbus Village’ project under construction,” the release states. “Our attorney believes that the zoning error made by the DOB that allowed the tower where the crane collapse occurred, is exactly the same error that has been allowing ‘Columbus Village’ to proceed in all of its enormity, supposedly ‘as of right,’ and without an environmental review.”

The organization says that fortunately they did not have a crane collapse at the site, but they did have a “construction failure.” The release notes that “when it is all said and done, the development–if it proceeds as planned–would create the longest pair of unbroken street walls along any avenue in Manhattan. The main construction area, which runs between 97th and 100th streets along both sides of Columbus Avenue, is the most extensive in any residential neighborhood in New York City. Imagine the Javits Center with residential skyscrapers on top, plunked down in the middle of a quiet neighborhood.”

In a previous statement, plaintiff attorney Lester said that “the DOB’S failure to discharge its ministerial duties has shut the door on the public review process, which should include a review and mitigation of environmental impacts as required under New York State law. The DOB’s gross dereliction of its administrative obligations is allowing the developer to proceed under a cloak of secrecy and causing harm to the community.”

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