A judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by Mott Haven residents in March to try to stop online grocer FreshDirect from relocating to the Harlem River Rail Yards in Port Morris.
Bronx Supreme Court Justice Mary Brigantti-Hughes tossed out the case on May 31, drawing elation from the Borough President, Ruben Diaz Jr. Diaz, a strong supporter of the move since the city announced the proposal in February 2012, Diaz said he was “thrilled to learn that the plaintiff’s legal efforts to thwart FreshDirect’s relocation to our borough have been stopped.”
The company’s CEO, Jason Ackerman, was similarly jubilant.
“We are eager to move forward with our plans to bring thousands of jobs to the Bronx,” said Ackerman.
South Bronx Unite, a grass roots organization comprised of local residents and advocates, filed suit in March, arguing that a 20-year-old environmental impact study of the land FreshDirect would build on is outdated.
In addition, the group has argued that the deal violates the state’s original agreement with the Galesi Group, the development company that manages the Harlem River Yards, which calls for the area to be developed for freight train service to help reduce truck traffic in the area.
South Bronx Unite, the umbrella organization that filed the lawsuit, says the move would bring more car and truck traffic to the neighborhood, making Mott Havens’ pollution problem even worse.
Gavin Kearney, an attorney with the New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, which represents the residents, said the judge dismissed the lawsuit on “technical grounds,” that fail to take into account the plaintiffs’ worries that “there are still going to be thousands of trucks and cars” worsening the area’s pollution problem. He added that his group will press forward with an appeal.