Children’s Magical Garden Wins a Court Battle Against Developers

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Members of the Children’s Magical Garden are celebrating a victory in their long legal battle with the owner of an adjacent Norfolk Street parcel.

In the spring of 2014, they filed an adverse possession claim against the Horizon Group and S & H Equities. The previous year, developer Serge Hoyda put up a fence, dividing a parcel at 157 Norfolk St. from two other lots that made up the community garden. He then sold the property for $3,350,000 to the Horizon Group, which filed plans for a six-story residential project on the site. The trial judge rejected a petition to dismiss the lawsuit in 2015, and this past Thursday, the appeals court agreed with the lower court.

So now the case is finally headed for trial. As you’ll see in the full decision posted below, the judges ruled that the garden group met the legal standards to make an adverse possession case. Leaders of the Children’s Magical Garden said the owners abandoned the parcel, creating a “shameful eyesore” on the Lower East Side. Garden activists cleaned up the space, and established programming for the community. 

In a statement, Benjamin Burry of Sidley Austin LLP (handling the case pro bono for the garden) said:

The decision by the Appellate Division affirming the adverse possession claim filed by the Children’s Magical Garden upholds its right to protect its land against a misguided developer. We are pleased with this decision, which prevents the destruction of this historic and beloved community garden and puts the Children’s Magical Garden firmly on the path to proving its ownership of the property it built and maintained for more than 30 years.

Garden President Kate Temple-West was among those who spoke at Friday’s event. She talked about the Children’s Magical Garden’s track record going back three decades of, “creating a place for community to connect with nature.” Just last week, the garden kicked off its Family Nature Program.

We have reached out to the developers for comment, but have so far not heard back from them.

In 2013, the city transferred two out of three parcels that made of the garden into the GreenThumb Program. The only lot in question is 157 Norfolk, which remains separated from the rest of the space by a high fence.

 

Children’s Magical Garden Appeal by The Lo-Down on Scribd