A lawsuit brought by parishioners of St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church in New York City who object to the parish's plans to construct a skyscraper has been dismissed by state Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Shorter.
He ruled that the vestry, the church governing body, has the power to decide how to spend church funds.
Two parts of the six-part lawsuit were brought on behalf of the church itself, but Justice Shorter dismissed them on the ground that not enough parishioners were party to the action. He said that under state law, 5 percent of the church's 744 voting members would have to have been party to the suit for it to have gone ahead on those two points.
Gerald Fischer, a lawyer for the parishioners, said that since the suit was originally filed with seven parishioners as plaintiffs, the number wanting to be a party to it had grown to more than 40. He said he would ask Shorter to reconsider his decision and allow the case to be heard on the two points.
Since 1981, St. Bartholomew's has been battling New York City landmark regulations in order to construct a skyscraper on the site of its community house adjacent to the church sanctuary. Both the church and community house were designated city landmarks in 1967, a status that prevents the parish from making any changes in the building facades.