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Fresh Direct foes appeal

Bronx Times

The neighborhood coalition opposing Fresh Direct’s planned relocation to the South Bronx continues to fight the grocery giant’s move tooth and nail.

South Bronx Unite is appealing a ruling made in Bronx Supreme Court in June that cleared the grocer’s way to accept $127 million in city subsidies and move operations from Long Island City to a site at Harlem River Yards.

This time around, the nabe group is stressing that the City’s Industrial Development Agency relied on an outdated environmental study when it voted to approve Fresh Direct’s move in July.

The study was conducted in 1993. Since then, much of the area around the yard has been rezoned from industrial to residential. Asthma rates are among the highest in the city.

“We’re confident that the appeals court will be receptive to the idea that relying on a study conducted in 1993 is foolish,” said Gavin Kearney of New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, which represents South Bronx Unite.

Kearney delivered his oral arguments at the State Supreme Court’s Appellate Division in Manhattan on Thursday, Dec. 5.

Besides the argument for a more current environmental review, the lawsuit claims that the city’s sale of public land to Fresh Direct is a violation of public resources.

Meanwhile, the grocer is confident that the move is in the bag.

Fresh Direct foes’ arguments are essentially the same as those tossed aside this summer.

“The Bronx Supreme Court already ruled that the environmental review was proper and we are confident the appeals court will agree,” the company said in a statement, adding, “We are ready to move to the Bronx and bring over 3,000 jobs.”

Fresh Direct has promised that many of those jobs will go to local Bronxites.

In another nod to the borough, the company began offering its grocery delivery service to every Bronx zip code in May.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and Mayor Bloomberg have already spoken out in favor of the project, though incoming mayor Bill de Blasio said he opposes the city’s financial support for the move.

Though the move would indisputably bring truck traffic, the company stresses a goal of having all of those wheels be 100 percent green over the next five years.

At least 10 of those trucks were ordered from Smith Electric Vehicles, a company that itself has plans to open up shop in the South Bronx.

But many locals remain unsatisfied.

“If all of those trucks ran on water,” said Mychal Johnson, a Mott Haven local who helped start South Bronx Unite and who has been a staunch fighter of the Fresh Direct relocation from the start, “we’d still have a problem.”

Ben Kochman can be reached via e-mail at BKochman@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742–3394

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