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July 26, 2005

DDDb Press Release: Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn Attorney Warns MTA Ratner’s Bid is Contingent on Eminent Domain

DDDB’s Legal Counsel Informs MTA of Ratner's Legal Hurdles and Ramifications

NEW YORK, NY– Jeff Baker, attorney for Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, of the Albany law firm Young, Sommer, Ward, Ritzenberg, Baker & Moore LLC, has sent a letter to the MTA's Chairman Peter Kalikow, and all the MTA Board members today. (text of the letter: http://www.dddb.net/eminentdomain)


In the letter to the MTA, Mr. Baker states:

"FCRC’s plan for the Yards contemplates the use of eminent domain to take property from individuals and businesses in the adjacent footprint area in the event that the company is unable to negotiate the private purchase of such property under the threat of condemnation. At present, DDDB members include certain property owners who have no intention of selling to FCRC and are committed to challenging FCRC’s proposed use of eminent domain in a court of law. Over the past two years, FCRC has indicated that it would either argue that the area is blighted or that an economic benefit would accrue to the city from its development in order to justify its invocation of eminent domain. As counsel for DDDB, it is my professional opinion that both proposed theories would meet vigorous opposition in court."

The letter concludes:

"As FCRC’s bid is contingent on the use of eminent domain, it is imperative that the MTA is aware of the significant challenges the company could face if it pursues its current plans. Therefore, I respectfully urge that you consider the ramifications to the MTA of accepting any bid which is contingent upon such a questionable use of the power of eminent domain and that the MTA Board carefully consider all bids before moving forward."

DDDB spokesperson, Daniel Goldstein said, "The MTA has a choice between Ratner's proposal which could face years of major legal hurdles and Extell's proposal which does not contemplate the use eminent domain and therefore would avoid such legal obstacles. The MTA must consider the huge risk they would be taking if they award their property to Mr. Ratner."

Goldstein continued, "Many of my neighbors and I have no intention of selling to FCRC and succumbing to his threats. That includes residents (homeowners and tenants of all incomes) and businesses. We want to stay in our homes and in our neighborhood. We strongly believe that the contemplated use of eminent domain for Mr. Ratner's project, already used as a threat, runs contrary to the Constitution's public use clause in the Fifth Amendment. It also appears to run afoul of the US Supreme Court's Kelo decision from last month. It is also clear to us that Mr. Ratner's desire for our homes and businesses is nothing but pure greed. The rail yards and property he already owns, the Atlantic Center Mall, are more than enough acres to build the project he has proposed. Taking our homes and businesses is an illegal land grab, and we intend to show that in the courts when the time comes."

Posted by lumi at July 26, 2005 3:10 PM