Atlantic Yards suit targets ESDC and Ratner

October 19, 2009 12:32PM

Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, along with 19 other community advocacy groups, filed a lawsuit today against the Empire State Development Corporation and Forest City Companies, in an attempt to block the approval of the massive Atlantic Yards project in Prospect Heights.

The groups claim that the ESDC and the development group plan to circumvent the project’s governing document, while refusing to submit a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. According to a release from Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, if the groups’ suit is successful, it would “doom” the development.

The project opponents’ lawyer, Jeffrey Baker of Young, Sommer, Ward, Ritzenberg, Baker & Moore, said that the ESDC mishandled the Atlantic Yards development, breaking laws in order to strong arm state and local officials into granting approval.

“The ESDC cut corners in order to rush Ratner’s project forward for an end-of-year IRS deadline,” Baker said in the release. “In so doing it has egregiously violated state laws governing environmental reviews and urban renewal.”

Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn has weighed in on several recent community developments, granting its support to projects like the MTA’s expansion of the Vanderbilt Rail Yards, and taking on projects that it believes divide communities. It has long protested the Atlantic Yards development, citing developer Bruce Ratner’s lack of disclosure to the community and the state’s seizure of land that it believes is not sanctioned by eminent domain laws.

“It has been clear for a long time that the ESDC has worked officiously to serve as Ratner’s tool in government,” said Candace Carponter, legal chair of Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn.

New York State’s highest court recently heard opening oral arguments over the legality of eminent domain enforcement in the Atlantic yards project. TRD