On September 27th, the Hon. Allan B. White issued the following ruling on Citizen for a Better Maspeth's Article 78 to force the City of New York to turn over documents relating to the planned conversion of the Maspeth Holiday Inn Express into a shelter:
"It is ordered and adjudged that the petition is granted solely to the extent that respondents are directed to provide petitioner with copies of the Request For Proposals that were received in connection with the proposal to convert the subject Holiday Inn Express to a homeless shelter, and any and all plans submitted along with the RFPs which demonstrate that the space would be a conforming use under the Zoning Resolution; and it is further ordered and adjudged that the remainder of the petition is denied in its entirety."
There were 3 things we FOILed:
Citizens, however, is not a competitor for the operation of a homeless shelter, and as respondents assert the proposal to convert the subject premises to a homeless shelter has been discontinued, the disclosure of the RFP to the petitioner will not impair respondent DHS’s discussions and negotiations with Acacia or other non-profit organizations. Respondent DHS, thus, has failed to establish that disclosure of the RFP falls squarely within the ambit of Public Officers Law § 87 (2) (c). In addition the DHS has failed to establish that no documents exist with respect to item (1) of said request which sought “[a]ny and all plans submitted which demonstrates to DHS that the space would be a conforming use under the Zoning Resolution”. Therefore, said documents are not exempt from disclosure, and the DHS is required to provide petitioner with copies of the RFPs that were received in connection with the proposal to convert the subject Holiday Inn Express to a homeless shelter, and any and all plans submitted along with the RFPs which demonstrate that the space would be a conforming use under the Zoning Resolution."
Even though the original full shelter conversion plan was scrapped, Acacia has been renting rooms at the HIE to place individuals for much longer than 30 day stays. Only short stay hotels are permitted in manufacturing zones. The property owner has argued a violation of the zoning code in their lawsuit against the hotel and once we receive the info from the city we will share it with the property owner to strengthen their case. We also may proceed with our own lawsuit based on the zoning, but that will only be determined after review of the information provided and consulting with our attorneys.