NEW YORK, N.Y. (PIX11) — A New York State Supreme Court judge is halting plans for a zoning change that would pave the way for permanent outdoor dining in New York City. 

Some neighbors formed a coalition and filed a lawsuit claiming the city didn’t follow the correct steps required by law. 

After a day-long public hearing, the city council approved zoning changes in February that would allow outdoor dining city-wide. A temporary outdoor dining program was created in 2021 by order of the mayor. Previously, it was allowed mainly in business districts. 

Shannon Phipps lives in Williamsburg and is a plaintiff. The lawsuit cited noise, sanitation and environmental issues. “Using data to make decisions and not a lobby group. NYC Council was getting carried away,” she said. 

The ruling from Judge Frank Nervo of the New York State Supreme Court criticized the city and said an environmental impact study is required. 

“Respondent’s bald assertion that no significant impact on noise or traffic is attributable to the program is arbitrary and capricious considering the plain evidence that noise complaints have increased,” Judge Nervo wrote. 

This doesn’t change things for existing structures, which can remain in place through the end of 2022. 

Mayor Eric Adams has expressed support for outdoor dining. The NYC Department of Transportation has been drafting rules and would be in charge of the program. That office referred questions to the NYC Law Department. 

“We believe the environmental review conducted for the program was appropriate and sound. We are evaluating the city’s legal options,” a spokesperson said. 

The NYC Hospitality Alliance issued a statement: “We imagine the city will appeal this decision, and we will join the fight to ensure a more fair and equitable outdoor dining program can be established that’s inclusive of so many neighborhoods and small businesses that the pre-pandemic sidewalk cafe system left out.” 

Restaurant owners call the program a lifeline and hope the city comes up with a permanent plan. 

“The permitting application was strenuous. Streamlining and communicating the process to us, that would be really helpful,” said Antonia Joannides, the owner of Queen’s Room.

There are guidelines for temporary outdoor dining and the city continues to work on permanent rules including enforcement, cost and location guidelines.