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January 12, 2012

In new briefs, ESDC and Forest City ask appeals court to overturn decision ordering new environmental review for Phase 2 of Atlantic Yards

Atlantic Yards Report

The battle over the last remaining Atlantic Yards lawsuit continues in court, with new briefs from the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) and developer Forest City Ratner.

The state agency, decrying an "unprecedented judicial usurpation of agency discretion," slams state Supreme Court Justice Marcy Friedman for imposing what it says are her views on how to analyze the potential impact of an extended project buildout lasting 25 years, rather than the officially announced ten years.

Similarly, Forest City denounces "an unprecedented expansion and distortion of SEQRA [State Environmental Quality Review Act], and an improper substitution by the court of its judgment for that of ESDC."

Thus, contends the agency, her decision, which required the ESDC to conduct a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) regarding Phase 2--the eleven towers outside the arena block and Site 5--should be reversed both because judges should defer to agency decisions, as well as "the record here, which makes clear that ESDC took multiple SEQRA 'hard looks' at the impacts of the Project under various construction schedules."

The briefs by ESDC and Forest Citywill get a response from the two coalitions (led by Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn and the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council/BrooklynSpeaks) that brought the (now-combined) lawsuit.

The twist

But the whole thing's a bit surreal.

Why? Because statements made outside the record by developer Bruce Ratner make a mockery of the agency's longstanding claims the project would last ten years. Moreover, a regular pattern of construction-related abuses means that the mitigation plan created by and cited by the state is less "robust" than asserted.

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Posted by eric at January 12, 2012 11:30 AM