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October 10, 2007

Fight against development continues

By David Freedlander

The plaintiffs also alleged that Ratner was given unfair preference to develop the site by elected officials, particularly former Gov. George Pataki, who was a former law school classmate of his.

"There are strong indications of an inappropriate, illegitimate public process here," said Brinckeroff outside the courtroom. "Government officials at every level here toed the line and said, 'OK, you are our old buddy from law school, we'll let you do it,' and that's a problem because Ratner decided what he needed was to take my clients' property."

Preeta D. Bansal, a lawyer for the Empire State Development Corp., argued that the project will significantly improve a blighted area, even if it does benefit a private enterprise by bringing new parkland and better public transportation to the neighborhood.

She dismissed the contention that the plan was approved because of relationships between Ratner and various public officials.

"Don't confuse motive with purpose," she told the court.
Brinckerhoff vowed to continue the fight to the Supreme Court if his clients lost in the Court of Appeals.

His clients, living in the shadow of one of the biggest projects in New York City history and underneath a cloud of uncertainty, vowed to press on to save their homes.

"My constitutional rights have been violated," said Henry Weinstein, who owns a commercial property on the land that would be taken by the government for the project. "I feel like that is one of the most important things I possess."


Posted by lumi at October 10, 2007 9:38 AM