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June 7, 2007

Atlantic Yards suit dismissed

Eminent domain at issue

By Amy Zimmer

The U.S. District Court dismissed an eminent domain lawsuit filed by 13 property owners and rent-stabilized tenants within Forest City Ratner’s 22-acre footprint for the roughly $4 billion Atlantic Yards development. Ratner officials called yesterday’s ruling a victory, but the plaintiffs vowed to appeal.

The plaintiffs argued the project was for private benefit with public benefit as a pretext, and, therefore, the state’s seizure of private property for a private developer was unconstitutional.

“Because Plaintiffs concede that the Project will create large quantities of housing and office space, as well as a sports arena, in an area that is mostly blighted, plaintiffs’ allegations, if proven, would not permit a reasonable juror to conclude that the ‘sole purpose’ of the Project is to confer a private benefit,” Judge Nicholas Garaufis wrote in his decision.
Candace Carponter, legal chair for project foes Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, said, “We clearly disagree with the judge,” explaining they would soon file in the U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.

She was heartened that Garaufis disagreed with Magistrate Judge Robert Levy’s February report recommending the case be heard in state, not federal court “to stop what we believe is a private taking in violation of the U.S. Constitution.”


NoLandGrab: Though everyone concedes "that the Project will create large quantities of housing and office space, as well as a sports arena," the plaintiffs' point was that these benefits are incidental and pretextual for a project that was conceived to solely benefit developer Bruce Ratner.

If the Atlantic Yards land grab is allowed to stand, then any land grab in NY State will be legal as long as some public benefit is promised. As for "blight," NY State's definition is so wide-ranging that most of Brooklyn could be declared blighted if some developer wanted it to be so.

Posted by lumi at June 7, 2007 8:22 AM