« It came from the Blogosphere... | Main | Sell the Naming Rights and You May Sell Much More »

September 17, 2008

In EIS case appeal, debate over blight and a mysterious market study

Atlantic Yards Report

Key to the battle in the lawsuit over the Atlantic Yards environmental review, the subject of an oral argument in state appellate court [today], is a document that surfaced only in mid-August, well after the lawsuit (or even the appeal) was filed by 26 neighborhood and civic groups. The document that suggests that the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), in its eagerness to determine blight on the Atlantic Yards footprint, ignored or omitted an investigation into market trends that was part of the initial Blight Study contract with environmental consultant AKRF.

The document, which I received via a Freedom of Information Law Request (seeking information on the issue of conflict-of-interest, not blight) shows that AKRF, in the Contract Scope for the Blight Study, was supposed to “analyze residential and commercial rents on the project site and within the study area and to analyze assessed value trends on the project site.”

No such analysis was conducted, even as claims by the plaintiffs—echoing many Atlantic Yards critics, and even some supporters—that the project footprint wasn’t blighted were dismissed as merely anecdotal.

The plaintiffs, who are appealing the dismissal of their case, want the Contract Scope to be included in the administrative record, while the ESDC and fellow defendant Forest City Ratner disagree. No decision has emerged before the hearing, but, should the judges favor the plaintiffs on this procedural issue, that would offer new support to the legal argument challenging blight.

Norman Oder reviews the briefs as a preview of today's oral arguments. Click here to read the entire article.

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Another Atlantic Yards Appeal Scheduled for Wednesday

Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, the lead community group in opposition to Bruce Ratner’s proposed Atlantic Yards project, is asking its supporters to attend the oral argument of its appeal Wednesday in court.

According to DDDB, the argument is scheduled for 2 p.m. at the Appellate Division, First Department in Downtown Manhattan.

DDDB is the lead plaintiff in this particular lawsuit filed by several community groups who petitioned the state supreme court in April in an attempt to have the $4 billion project’s final environmental impact statement and approval annulled.

The Manhattan Supreme Court dismissed the case earlier this year. So far, the opponents of Atlantic Yards -- which has been described as the largest single-design project in the city’s history -- continue to lose each and every lawsuit and appeal that they file.

NoLandGrab: Actually, a couple "opponents" have won lawsuits in connection with the project: A suit brought by property owner Lars Williams for his improper arrest for vandalism was settled out of court; Henry Weinstein won his claim that the lease for his building was unlawfully transferred to Bruce Ratner, who made false claims that he "controlled" the parcel.

These suits were not brought by Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn and haven't changed the fact that Bruce Ratner is taking down every building he can get his hands on, but by conflating "opponents" and "Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn," the Eagle isn't painting an accurate picture.

Posted by lumi at September 17, 2008 5:48 AM