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February 15, 2008

$5,000 for you, $450-million megaproject using eminent domain for me?

Last week, Norman Oder reported that the campaign financing spigot at Forest City was still on, and included $5,000 in total contributions for New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson, from Ratner family members Charles Ratner, Ronald Ratner, Brian Ratner, Deborah Ratner Salzberg, and James Ratner, on 08/21/07.

This week The Westchester Journal News reports on the unveiling of the $450 million Echo Bay plan, which could possibly entail the use of (no surprises here) eminent domain.

The Journal News, Echo Bay plan carries support, brings challenges

A day after unveiling a $450 million plan with 600 luxury apartments, 62 waterfront town homes, 42 condominiums and 100,000 square feet of ground-level retail, city officials and members of the development team met yesterday with The Journal News/LoHud.com Editorial Board to begin the public relations push for the project.

"This is one of the few locations that you can create new public access on the Sound shore," Mayor Noam Bramson said. "This has been an industrial area for a century or more. ... The shoreline itself is completely disguised. You can't get there without trespassing, it's completely closed off."
The developer is in the early stages, for example, of acquiring the approximately 12 parcels needed for the project. Forest City has contacted all the property owners, purchased one property and is under contract with another, said Mark Weingarten, an attorney for the developer.

Though "no residents are in the mix," Bramson said, New Rochelle would consider the use of eminent domain, which could prolong and complicate the development timetable.

Here's a variation on the eminent-domain-will-only-be-used-as-a-last-resort refrain:

"We hope eminent domain isn't necessary, but it may be necessary," Bramson said.

Note to Bramson, "eminent domain will only be used as a last resort" is a better sound bite.

Posted by lumi at February 15, 2008 6:30 AM