NEW YORK – The American Center for Law & Justice filed a petition in New York State Supreme Court on Wednesday in an attempt to annul the previous day’s Landmarks Preservation Commission decision to deny landmark status to a building that developers seek to tear down to make way for an Islamic cultural center two blocks from Ground Zero.

The American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ), a Washington- based constitutional rights public interest law firm founded by Evangelist Pat Robertson in 1990, filed its petition on behalf of New York City firefighter Timothy Brown, a first responder on September 11.

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“The land use process of New York City now threatens to do what the terrorists failed to accomplish and destroy a building that has been under consideration for landmark status for 20 years,” the petition reads.

The ACLJ’s petition contends that the Landmarks Preservation Commission violated its own policies and procedures by refusing landmark status to the building at 45–51 Park Place, both on architectural and historical grounds, and that the commission exhibited “an arbitrary and capricious abuse of discretion and contrary to decades of administrative precedent.”

“We’re hopeful that the court will nullify the commission’s vote and reconsider what most New Yorkers and Americans understand – this site is sacred ground and not the place to build a mosque,” ACLJ chief counsel Jay Sekulow said.

ACLJ lawyer Brett Joshpe expects that the judicial process regarding his organization’s petition will take several months, and does not expect imminent movement on the construction of Park51, the proposed $100 million, 13- story glass and steel Islamic cultural center and mosque that has garnered opposition due to its proposed location two blocks from Ground Zero, until it receives the required permits from the city.

ACLJ’s petition alleges that the city failed to properly review and consider public comments about the project, acted hastily in voting to deny landmark status, and failed to acknowledge the significance of the 1850s Italianate building, thus violating the New York City Charter and the New York City Administrative Code.

The petition also contends that the building should be considered a historic landmark due to the events of September 11, noting that part of one of the hijacked planes of September 11 crashed through its roof.

“The building stands as an iconic symbol to an uninterrupted linkage of the rise of American capitalism with our current quest to preserve our freedom and democracy,” the petition reads. “The building, therefore, should stand as part of the commemorative and educational experience of our shared political, cultural and historic heritage.”

The ACLJ’s petition seeks to have the court nullify the commission’s decision and order the city to reconsider landmark status for the building.

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