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Hospital Lawsuit to Be Heard By State Supreme Court in Oneida County

In a statement last week by the city’s corporation counsel in Oneida County, the Supreme Court will hear a legal challenge against the City of Utica’s Planning Board approvals for Mohawk Valley Health System’s downtown hospital project.

Lawsuit Involves a $485 Million Integrated Health Campus

The lawsuit against the project involves a change in venue, with an integrated health campus in the area between Lafayette, Columbia, and State streets and Broadway. The campus is projected to cost $485 million.

The site plan approval was granted by the planning board in September 2019 after the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) measures reviewed the project’s potential environmental impact.

Jim Brock and Brett Truett, co-founders for the #NoHospitalDowntown movement, were among the plaintiffs who filed the case in the Albany Country Supreme Court. The defendants in the lawsuit include MVHS and the city’s planning board.

Lawsuit Alleges that Traffic Impact and Historic Resources Were Not Evaluated

The lawsuit alleges that the SEQR process didn’t evaluate archaeological and historic resources at the proposed site. They also allege that traffic impact due to the Adirondack Bank Center wasn’t evaluated, and alternatives were not analyzed.

On Thursday, according to the city, the change in venue was announced by Judge L. Michael Mackey of the Albany County Supreme Court.

A statement from the city’s Office of the Corporation Counsel said, “As such, all remaining challenges to the project not dismissed by Judge Mackey will be argued, heard and considered in Oneida County Supreme Court, at such time as the courts deem appropriate.”

Brock and Truett’s attorney, Thomas West, said that he hadn’t yet seen the city’s statement, but he said, “We’re confident in our case wherever it is heard.”

Venue Transfer Was Well-Received by MVHS

The judge’s decision to transfer the venue was well-received by MVHS. Robert Scholefield, the executive vice president of facilities and real estate for MVHS offered a statement:

“We feel it’s important that this challenge is heard by someone familiar with the City of Utica and the neighborhood in question and are pleased with the decision.”

Mackey’s December 2019 ruling allowed the portion of the lawsuit that challenged the environmental review process of the downtown medical campus to move forward.

That same ruling dismissed another case against defendants at the New York State Office of Parks, the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, Recreation and Historic Preservation, and Parks office Acting Commissioner Erick Kullesied.

A challenge was also dismissed by Mackey that involved the final site plan approval for the hospital project.