Judge Blocks City’s Effort to Make Open Restaurants Program Permanent

Posted on: March 25th, 2022 at 5:01 am by

The path to permanence for the city’s outdoor dining ambitions has been dealt a blow, thanks to a court ruling earlier this week.

The Supreme Court of the State of New York, with Judge Frank Nervo presiding, ruled in favor of 22 New Yorkers who filed suit last fall. The claimants argued that the negative impacts of the Open Restaurants program – dining sheds galore – required an environmental review.

This ruling effectively nullifies the City Council’s Zoning Text Amendment which would have permitted outdoor dining in nearly every street in the city.

In his terse judgement, Judge Nervo dismissed the City’s argument over Open Restaurants, and rebuked its actions.

“For a taxpayer supported agency to declare, in effect, the Open Restaurants Program and Outdoor Seating have no negative impact on our streets and communities because that Agency has unilaterally made that determination serves only as a thinly-veiled attempt to avoid statutory scrutiny of the program by a baseless claim of its own omnipotence,” Nervo stated.

The City had been moving rapidly to make the pandemic emergency outdoor dining program permanent. City Council held a single public hearing in early February and two weeks later voted to overturn decades of zoning regulations that prohibited outdoor dining in residential districts.

The Supreme Court ruling means that the City would need to perform a thorough environmental impact review to make Open Restaurants permanent.

Recent Stories

This Mott Street ATM Gouges with 17% Fee

Storefront ATMs are nothing new. In fact, their ubiquity was so pronounced that the city banned freestanding ones from sidewalks about a decade ago. Visitors to Chinatown or the Lower East Side unfamiliar with bank ATM locations when in need of cash might not realize the exorbitant fees some ATM operators are charging. For instance, […]

Bongos Taps into Orchard Street with ‘Gala Dinners’

The principals behind five-year-old Kind Regards on Ludlow Street – Michael Bray and Noble Harris – are together joining the party south of the Delancey Divide with a new hangout called Bongos. Bongos opened at 85 Orchard Street earlier this month – on the museum block – reactivating the storefront left vacant by An Choi two […]

Blockchain Company Anchors Sunshine Cinema Replacement Tower

The glassy office building that replaced the beloved Sunshine Cinema has its first tenant. And an anchor, at that. The arrival of San Francisco-based Solana Labs comes mere weeks after the sidewalk bridge outside 141 East Houston came down (thereby freeing Yonah Schimmel from bondage). Solana Labs, a blockchain company, reportedly signed a lease for […]

Man Shot and Killed on Q Train at Canal Street in Unprovoked Attack

A straphanger was shot and killed Sunday morning on a Q train just off the Manhattan Bridge in what investigators are calling an unprovoked attack. The 48-year-old victim, whose name is not released, was shot in the chest around 11:40am yesterday while riding a northbound Q train that was pulling into the Canal Street station, […]

Demolition Begins at Fire-Stricken Dim Sum Palace Building in Chinatown

Demolition started this week at 6 Chatham Square, which, until this month, housed neighborhood favorite Dim Sum Palace. Early morning May 1, a fire in the kitchen spread throughout the building, triggering a five-alarm response from the fire department. All told, five firefighters were injured battling the inferno over several hours. And according to Red […]