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About DDDB
Our coalition consists of 21 community organizations and there are 51 community organizations formally aligned in opposition to the Ratner plan.

DDDB is a volunteer-run organization. We have over 5,000 subscribers to our email newsletter, and 7,000 petition signers. Over 800 volunteers have registered with DDDB to form our various teams, task-forces and committees and we have over 150 block captains. We have a 20 person volunteer legal team of local lawyers supplementing our retained attorneys.

We are funded entirely by individual donations from the community at large and through various fundraising events we and supporters have organized.

We have the financial support of well over 3,500 individual donors.

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"Why should people get to see plans? This isn't a public project."
Bruce Ratner in Crain's Nov. 8, 2009

Judicial Panel Skeptical of ESDC and Ratner in Atlantic Yards Courtroom Drama

On Tuesday the state and Forest City Ratner lamely argued their appeal in front of a NY State Appellate Court panel which was not buying their contorted arguments. They were appealing the case the community won in which it was ruled that they are required to do a new environmental review for the bulk of the Atlantic Yards project.

Here is a round up of the court room drama, starting with Norman Oder's preview:

Appeals court argument Tuesday: should state have systematically examined impact of 25-year Atlantic Yards buildout? Is another public hearing needed?

In an argument tomorrow (February 14) afternoon lasting no longer than 30 minutes, lawyers for the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) and developer Forest City Ratner will argue to a state appellate court that a trial judge overstepped her boundaries in ordering the agency to systematically examine the environmental impacts of a 25-year project and to reassess the second phase of Atlantic Yards.

In turn, lawyers for two community coalitions, led by Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn and BrooklynSpeaks, will argue that the decision by Justice Marcy Friedman--which came after a skein of rulings--should be upheld, and a public hearing must be held. (Legal papers are here.)

...
Continue reading

And that is pretty much what the argument was about, but the judges' skepticism of Ratner/ESDC argument was intense from the get go, as described, again, by Norman Oder:

ESDC asks appellate court to deny full study of 25-year Atlantic Yards impacts (and alternatives); some judges skeptical, others wonder what harm it would do

It was a somewhat uphill battle yesterday for the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) and developer Forest City Ratner (FCR), asking a state appellate court panel to overturn a lower court’s order that the agency study the impact of a 25-year Atlantic Yards buildout, solicit public comment, and conduct a public hearing.

A couple of the five judges were clearly skeptical of the state, with one citing the ESDC's "obstinate adherence" to the long-professed ten-year buildout.

Others, taking in the objections from the defendants, questioned whether a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS)--which would analyze those extended impacts and even consider alternatives to Phase 2, since as revising the project to diminish impacts or welcoming new developers--would really cause any harm.

Then again, questions from the bench do not necessarily indicate how a court will rule after analyzing the legal papers.

Atlantic Yards was approved in 2006, with a ten-year buildout, then revised in 2009, as Forest City reopened settled deals with the ESDC (regarding the timing of condemnations) and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (regarding the payment of railyard development rights and the configuration of a replacement railyard), in order to save money.

As part of the 2009 approval, as the defendants stressed, the state did analyze the impacts of 15-year buildout (in the 2009 Technical Memorandum). In response to a lower court ruling by Supreme Court Justice Marcy Friedman, the state produced a document (the 2010 Technical Analysis) arguing that a 25-year buildout would not create any impacts not previously disclosed.

But that document was inadequate, argued the lawyers for the petitioners, community coalitions led by Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn and BrooklynSpeaks.

At the heart of the 35-minute argument before the Appellate Division, First Department, in Manhattan was whether an intense buildout of the 17-building project over a decade would be worse than an extended, if less intense, buildout over 25 years. The state says yes, the petitioners say no.

The legal dispute does not affect the building of the arena, nor the towers around it, but does address plans for and impacts of Phase Two of the project: the eleven towers east of Sixth Avenue, including those to be built on a platform over the Vanderbilt Yard.

A decision is expected in about two months. An appeal is not automatic unless two of the five justices dissent.
...

No sooner did ESDC lawyer Philip Karmel begin his argument than he was interrupted by Justice Rolando Acosta.

“Can you explain what is the reason for your client’s obstinate adherence to this ten-year plan when evidence on the ground is different?” asked Acosta, pointing to the 2009 agreement Forest City signed with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, allowing for 22 years to pay for development rights over the Vanderbilt Yard, casting doubt on the likelihood the project would be done in a decade.

“Yes, Your Honor,” replied Karmel, forced to dial back his usually hard-charging style. “We were not obstinately insistent on that schedule. What we did in 2006 was recognize considerable uncertainty....”

Justice Helen Freedman interjected to point out that the original EIS covered ten years.

“The original EIS recognized uncertainty in the construction schedule but identified ten years as a reasonable worst-case scenario” for the environmental review, asserted Karmel.

That sounded like a novel theory, since the Executive Summary of the Final EIS is pretty clear:

All construction is expected to be completed over a 10-year period; the number of construction activities would vary over time, and are divided, for purposes of the analysis, into two phases.

“The original EIS said there was uncertainty in the construction schedule,” Karmel repeated a few moments later. “There continues to be uncertainty.”
...

Continue reading for much more detail from the argument and video of the post argument press conference with DDDB attorney Jeffrey Baker and BrooklynSpeaks attorney Al Butzel.


Bergen Record journalist John Brennan, despite the fact that he works for a Jersey newspaper, has provided some of the best and most dedicated coverage the Atlantic Yards saga from the beginning. This continued yesterday with his blog on the court proceedings:

An arena grows in Brooklyn – but it's complicated

Atlantic Yards developer Forest City Ratner was in court in Manhattan on Tuesday – Valentine's Day – arguing against critics' claims that they have a sweetheart deal with New York State to develop the project on any timetable they choose.

First things first: This last remaining lawsuit, eight years into the saga, will not impact construction of the Nets' $1 billion Barclays Center arena near downtown Brooklyn nor its scheduled opening in September. That is the first of more than a dozen buildings scheduled to go up – eventually.

And that's where this legal action comes in: If the project's original 10-year timetable is now more realistically a 25-year one for full buildout, is a Supplemental Environmental Impact statement required?

The state-run Empire State Development Corp. has an interesting take, saying that a longer construction timetable simply lessens intensity of impact by spreading it out over more years – meaning that new studies are not required.

Of course, this means that "temporary" parking lots, for instance, may be in use for more than 10 years – which seems to stretch the meaning of that word.

Look for a decision come springtime...

Finally the Times relegated its coverage to "The Local", an odd thing for a state Appellate argument that will have ramifications well beyond Brooklyn...but anyway:

How Long Will It Take to Build Atlantic Yards? No One Knows
The Local [Fort Greene/Clinton Hill], Kyle Thomas McGovern

Even the lawyers don't know when Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards project will be completed — if it will be completed at all.

That bombshell — and the equally explosive prospect of a massive parking lot just south of Atlantic Avenue taking up promised park space for more than a decade — were the highlights of yesterday's appeals court hearing to consider whether the 16-skyscraper arena, commercial and residential project is so delayed that Mr. Ratner must perform a new environmental impact statement to analyze the effect of the longer buildout.
...

"This is the 13th and 14th litigation about the Atlantic Yards project," [Empire State Development Corporation attorney Philip Karmel] said. "If we had a supplementary [environmental impact statement], there'd be yet another litigation."

Good thing Karmel isn't a mathematician, this is the 7th Atlantic Yards related lawsuit. But he is right about one thing, if the SEIS is done in the same bogus manner as the original EIS there probably will be litigation.



Posted: 2.16.12
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Eminent Domain Case
Goldstein et al v. ESDC
[All case files]

November 24, 2009
Court of Appeals
Ruling

[See ownership map]

EIS Lawsuit

DDDB et al v ESDC et al
Click for a summary of the lawsuit seeking to annul the review and approval the Atlantic Yards project.

Appeal briefs are here.

2/26/09
Appellate Divsion
Rules for ESDC
What would Atlantic Yards Look like?...
Photo Simulations
Before and After views from around the project footprint revealing the massive scale of the proposed luxury apartment and sports complex.

Click for
Screening Schedule
of
Isabel Hill's
"Atlantic Yards" documentary
Brooklyn Matters


Read a review
-----------------------
Atlantic Yards
would be
Instant
Gentrification
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