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May 9, 2007

Judge: What is ‘Yards’ benefit?

The Brooklyn Papers
By Ariella Cohen

Here's one we missed (thanks "Mad O!").

Though the article is a pretty good, though short, account of what went on in court last week, it goes way off-point in citing the Supreme Court's Kelo ruling:

“Can you tell me how a professional sports [facility] is a public use?” Justice Joan Madden asked Philip Karmel, a lawyer for the Empire State Development Corporation, at the three-hour-long hearing.

Madden said a professional sports arena “is primarily a profit-making [venture] for the owner of the team.”

The question of “public benefit” arose during discussion of whether the state was justified in declaring the 22-acre Atlantic Yards footprint as “blight” that should be seized through eminent domain for a “civic project.”

Demonstrating a public benefit is necessary before the state can condemn land. In the past, public benefit was construed mostly to mean hospitals, public schools, highways, police stationhouses or other infrastructure. But the Supreme Court’s 2005 Kelo decision broadened the definition of public benefit (read the decision at http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/04-108.ZO.html).


NoLandGrab: The Brooklyn Paper's citation of Kelo v. New London is way off point, because the recent US Supreme Court decision determined that increasing the tax base through economic revitalization could be considered a "public use." It does not tackle the "blight" issue.

The Empire State Development Corporation and Forest City Ratner are not claiming this justification for the use of eminent domain, so read the decision if you are interested in learning more about eminent domain law, but don't expect to find anything that will add to your understanding of the environmental lawsuit being heard by Judge Madden.

The courtroom questioning concerned the definition of "civic project."

"Civic project" is a statutory term defined in the enacting legislation that created the UDC, thusly:

A civic project is “designed and intended for the purpose of providing facilities for educational, cultural, recreational, community, municipal, public service or other civic purposes.”

UDCA § 3, McK. Unconsol. L. § 6253(6)(d).

Posted by lumi at May 9, 2007 9:07 AM