Queens community rallies against plans for homeless shelter

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GLENDALE (PIX11) -- The city is trying to rubber stamp a homeless shelter in one Queens neighborhood.  That's the claim coming out of Glendale where community groups have filed a lawsuit to stop the plans for a 125 family shelter from moving forward.

"All they have told us is they're putting 125 families here and we feel that a building of this nature does not belong in our community," said Sal Crifasi with the Glendale Middle Village Coalition.

Glendale Residents say the Department of Homeless Services never asked them for input on the plan to put the shelter in their neighborhood.

Instead, the Glendale Middle Village Coalition says the city rubber stamped the plans without a proper environmental study.

Now they've filed a lawsuit to stop the plans from moving forward.

"We're not against homeless shelters obviously," said Robert Holden with the Juniper Park Civic Association. "We're looking to the city to give us something that fits into the neighborhood.  I think the city should be sensitive to that."

While the City did not perform an environmental impact study, it did perform an independent environmental assessment which found that the shelter would have no negative impact on the community here in Glendale.  But the lawsuit argues that that assessment was not up to the same standards and contained several flaws.

"This shelter will not have an impact on traffic because not a single person who lives or works in this shelter will have a car.  Not one person.  That is the assumption in the report," said Attorney Christopher Murray.  "I think it's ridiculous to assume that not a single person is going to use a car."

A spokesperson for DHS said the organization couldn't comment on pending litigation, but added that they stand by the assessment.

Many people in the community say they'd rather put a school at the abandoned Cooper Avenue warehouse, but they never got to share their opinion with the city.

"By doing it the way they did it, they're cutting the community out of the process and I think that's the most egregious aspect of it," said Murray

If opponents win the lawsuit, the city will have to do a through analysis of the project to see what impact it will have on the community, but plans to build the shelter could still move forward if the findings are consistent with the original assessment.

Courts are expected to hear the case early next year.