Monday, September 29, 2008

Setback for ESDC in Atlantic Yards case

A State Appellate Court panel has rejected the Empire State Development Corporation's (ESDC) motion to dismiss Goldstein et al. v. Empire State Development Corporation—the Atlantic Yards eminent domain lawsuit filed by nine property owners and tenants with properties in the footprint of Forest City Ratner's foundering megaproject proposal. The case was filed on August 1st of this year.

The ESDC unsuccessfully tried to dismiss the petitioners' case, which charges that New York State's use of eminent domain to seize private homes and businesses for developer Forest City Ratner's (FCR) Atlantic Yards project violates the New York State Constitution's public use, due process and equal protection clauses, as well as low-income resident requirements.

Court Rejects New York State's Effort to Dismiss Atlantic Yards Eminent Domain Case

The petitioners' victory is a major setback for FCR and the ESDC. FCR President/CEO Bruce Ratner recently told The New York Times that he plans to "break ground" in December. Ratner does not own the land he needs to build his proposed arena and skyscraper project, and is attempting to have New York State seize the land for him by eminent domain.

"Though Ratner claims that he'll ‘break ground' for his Atlantic Yards proposal in December, he cannot do so unless New York State uses eminent domain to seize the owners' and tenants' properties and give them to him as planned. But the plan is now in doubt," said Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn Legal Director Candace Carponter.

The Court has given the ESDC until October 15th to file its answer to the petitioners' complaint. According to the normal briefing schedule, petitioners will then file their brief on January 15th, 2009. The ESDC would reply in mid-February and petitioners would file their answering brief at the end of February. Oral argument would then most likely be scheduled for sometime in March or April and a decision would presumably come somewhere between late spring and fall of 2009.

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