Bill Morris in Legal/Financial on November 3, 2023
Two sprawling middle-class co-ops in Queens mounted a lawsuit to block Local Law 97, part of the city's ambitious Climate Mobilization Act, which beginning next year will levy fines on buildings that fail to reduce their carbon emissions below prescribed caps. The lawsuit contended that Local Law 97 is unconstitutional because it deprives homeowners of property without due process of law, and it's preempted by the state's Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. Further, the suit claims the law is "too vague."
State Supreme Court Justice J. Machelle Sweeting has rejected all claims and dismissed the lawsuit.
The plaintiffs, she wrote in her decision, “cannot honestly maintain that they do not understand the conduct Local Law 97 prohibits or the penalties they will face for violations."
As for the claim that the state law preempts Local Law 97, Sweeting wrote: “Rather than identifying any inconsistency or divergence in their objectives, New York State has repeatedly expressed its desire and intent to collaborate with the City and other local governments to abate [greenhouse gas] emissions."
The lawsuit was brought by three parties: Bob Friedrich, president at Glen Oaks Village co-op; Warren Schreiber, president at Bay Terrace Section 1 co-op; and Maiden LLC, a limited liability corporation that owns a mixed-use residential and commercial building in Manhattan.
The administration of Mayor Eric Adams was delighted by the decision. “We are glad to see that the courts rightly dismissed this lawsuit,” Andrew Rudansky, a spokesman for the city’s Department of Buildings, tells Crain’s in a statement. “The Adams administration is committed to fully enforcing this nation-leading climate initiative in a way that supports building owners who are making efforts to comply with the law, and penalizing those who are not.”
The plaintiffs were feeling very different emotions. “We’re disappointed, we disagree with the judge’s decision,” Schreiber says. “Our attorneys are planning an appeal, so we’re hopeful that on appeal we can prevail.”
As things stand in the wake of the lawsuit's dismissal, Local Law 97 will go into effect less than two months from now.
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