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August 4, 2008

DDDB PRESS RELEASE: Nine Property Owners and Tenants File Atlantic Yards Eminent Domain Challenge in New York State Court

Petitioners Seek to Prevent New York State's Seizure of Their Homes and Businesses by Eminent Domain

For Immediate Release: August 4, 2008

BROOKLYN, NY— Late Friday nine property owners and tenants—with homes and businesses New York State wants to seize for developer Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project—filed a petition with the Appellate Division of New York State Supreme Court seeking an order rejecting the Empire State Development Corporation's (ESDC) findings and determination to seize their homes and businesses by eminent domain.

The court argument will likely be in January 2009.

"New York Courts have a proud history of interpreting the New York Constitution as providing greater protections for individual rights than the federal constitution. This case presents an opportunity to continue that tradition by declaring that the New York Constitution prohibits the government from seizing private homes simply to turn them over to a developer who covets them for a massive luxury condominium project," said lead attorney Matthew Brinckerhoff of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP. "We are confident that the court will see this for what it is: government officials bending to the will of Bruce Ratner, allowing him to wield the power of eminent domain for his personal financial benefit."

Facing the seizure of their homes and businesses, the petitioners have alleged five claims against the ESDC— the condemning authority utilized by Forest City Ratner to take the petitioners' properties and give them to Forest City Ratner. The five claims are that the ESDC's determination to forcibly seize the properties should be rejected because:

1. It violates the public use clause contained in the Bill of Rights of the New York Constitution.

ESDC's claims of public benefit are a pretext to justify a private taking.

2. It violates the due process clause contained in the Bill of Rights of the New York Constitution.

The public process was a sham. The outcome was predetermined in a back room deal between Ratner, Pataki and Bloomberg.

3. It violates the equal protection clause contained in the Bill of Rights of the New York Constitution.

By singling out the petitioners, for unequal, adverse, treatment, and selecting Ratner as the recipient of irrational largess, the ESDC violated the petitioners' right to equal protection under the law.

4. It violates the low-income and current resident requirements of the New York Constitution.

The New York State Constitution provides that no loan or subsidy shall be made to aid any project unless the project contains a plan for the remediation of blight and the "occupancy of any such project shall be restricted to persons of low income as defined by law and preference shall be given to persons who live or shall have lived in such area or areas."

The Atlantic Yards project is not "restricted to persons of low income" and no preference has been given to "persons who live or shall have lived in such area."

5. It violates the "public use, benefit or purpose" requirement contained in New York's Eminent Domain Procedure Law (EDPL).

ESDC's determination that petitioners' homes and businesses will serve a "public use, benefit or purpose" has no basis in fact or law.

The petition to the Court for the case, Goldstein et al. v. Empire State Development Corporation, can be downloaded at: www.dddb.net/eminentdomain


Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn—in its effort to defend the homes and businesses of community members and advocate for their rights—organized the eminent domain lawsuit, and raises the funds for the lawsuit.

Posted by lumi at August 4, 2008 4:41 AM