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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.

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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

ESDC Decides to Follow the Law
As just reported in a web only article in The Brooklyn Papers, the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) has decided that it ought to follow State law.

The ESDC had recently added a new public hearing on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on September 18th. By law the ESDC must hold written public comment open for ten days after the public hearing. Until today that comment period was scheduled to end on September 22nd. The ESDC would have been breaking the law if it maintained that date. So today it announced the new written comment deadline is September 29th.

We think that this August 28 letter [pdf] from our attorney Jeffrey Baker to the ESDC may have forced their hand, and convinced them that abiding by State statutes is the right thing to do. It's unfortunate they needed to be told. Here is an excerpt from that letter:
As you know, the SEQRA [State Environmental Quality Review Act] regulations require that the lead agency receive public comments on an DEIS for “no less than 10 calendar days following a public hearing at which the environmental impacts of the proposed action are considered”. 6 NYCRR § 617.9(a)(4)(iii). Clearly that regulation applies to ESDC’s “Community Forums”. We are not aware of any factual or legal distinction between the “public hearing” held on August 23rd and the “community forums” to be held on September 12th and 18th. At both the “hearing” and the “forum” comments are being taken on the DEIS, a transcript is being made and all of the comments are being considered. Furthermore, ESDC’s “Basic Protocol for the Community Forums” notes that persons who signed up to speak at the public hearing but were not given an opportunity to speak, will be given priority at the community forums and that persons, including public officials, who already spoke at the public hearing will not be permitted to speak at the forum. Clearly, the “forums” are nothing more than a continuation of the public hearing. Changing the name of the event does not alter its essential nature. Since the forums are functionally identical to the hearing, the forums must be deemed a continuation of the public hearing and thus comments must be accepted for 10 calendar days following the last public hearing/forum.

Therefore we request that you confirm and publish a new notice recognizing that written comments will be accepted until 5:30 PM on September 28, 2006.
In The Brooklyn Papers story there is this comment from the ESDC:
“We thought it was appropriate, and wanted to give the public more time to review and comment on the project,” ESDC spokeswoman Jessica Copen later told The Brooklyn Papers.
DO NOT BE FOOLED: Appropriate? The ESDC didn't want to do any such thing, they simply realized that they should abide by the law. Also the public, and top elected officials, have called for a meaningful and fair review period which would be at least two more months, not six more days.

Unfortunately the ESDC continues to schedule a DEIS hearing on September 12th, primary election day. This is unconscionable (especially considering the 8-hour commitment the last hearing required just to have a chance to speak). A Daily Gotham blogger, Bouldin, called it "voter suppression"–we won't argue with that. We'll have more to say about it in the coming days.

Posted: 8.31.06
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Eminent Domain Case
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