Volume 80, Number 40 | March 3 - 9, 2011
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
By Albert Amateau
After four years of rallies, hearings and dismissed court cases, an opponent of the Department of Sanitation’s proposed Spring St. three-district mega-garage went to court last week over an 11-foot strip of land, in yet another effort to trash the project.
The plaintiff is the owner of the St. John’s Center just north of the project site, which is controlled by the city and owned by United Parcel Service.
St. John’s filed the suit Feb. 22 and won a temporary restraining order on March 1 from State Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey K. Oing, stopping work on the sanitation project pending a March 11 hearing.
The disputed strip is at the property line on the south side of the St. John’s Center and the north side of the site of the $500 million garage proposed for three sanitation districts.
Back in 1976, U.P.S. erected a chain-link fence between Washington and West Sts. at the north end of the yard where the delivery service marshals its trucks. But the fence is short of the property line by 11 feet 1 inch and St. John’s has been maintaining the narrow strip exclusively for the past 34 years.
St. John’s, whose official name is 340 West LLC, claims ownership of the strip under the common law doctrine known variously as “adverse possession,” “boundary line by acquiescence” or the “doctrine of practical location.”
U.P.S. did nothing to interfere with St. John’s use of the strip until after the delivery company agreed to let the city use its property for the new garage. Earlier this year, the city moved to take over the strip.
St. John’s is asking the court to halt any construction on the Sanitation project and to declare the strip belongs to St. John’s under the “adverse possession” doctrine.
St. John’s and other property owners and community groups have gone to court to stop what they say is a grossly oversized 120-foot-tall project, even though it was approved by the City Council in 2008. But last year, State Supreme Court Justice Joan Lobis dismissed the suit, which is now scheduled for a March 24 hearing in the Appellate Division.
In the current action to be heard March 11, St. John’s also charges that the Sanitation Department plans for the project to be 418 feet long violate by 5 feet the 413-foot-long project approved in 2008 by the Department of City Planning and the City Council.