While Forest City Ratner has gained control of the arena site (by abusing eminent domain and a sweetheart deal with the MTA) and started excavation for the arena, there is still a thorny legal issue concerning the timeframe of the project and the resulting environmental impacts.
Oral argument on that thorny legal issue will take place on Tuesday, June 29th at 11am on the case DDDB et al. v. ESDC. The argument is on the plaintiffs' motion asking the court to reconsider and reargue their challenge to the state's September 2009 approval of the Atlantic Yards Modified General Project Plan.
Judge Marcy Friedman had ruled for the ESDC (Empire State Development Corporation). But the plaintiffs, DDDB and 19 other community groups, as well as BrooklynSpeaks, asked the court to allow reargument in light of new, critical evidence found in the Atlantic Yards Development Agreement between ESDC and Ratner, which had been made public only after the case was argued. Put more simply—the ESDC purposely held back key documents from the legal record.
Details on the oral argument:
Tuesday, June 29. 11 AM
60 Centre Street, Room 335
Please take some time out of your day, if possible, to attend the hearing. (Arrive a bit early to get through security.)
The ruling on the original case challenging the ESDC's September 2009 approval the Modified General Project Plan hinged on whether or not there was a rational basis for the ESDC to claim the project would take ten years.
In the March 10th ruling, the Court wrote:
"Under the limited standard of SEQRA (State Environmental Quality Review Act) review, the court is constrained to hold that ESDC's elaboration of its reasons for using the 10 year build-out was supported — albeit, in this court's opinion, only minimally — by the factors articulated by ESDC." (Emphasis added.)
The Court had no choice but to ignore the crucial Development Agreement documents that prove the project would take at least 25 years, because the ESDC had not made the agreement part of the public record, and had not accurately reflected the elements of that agreement.
If, as the Court ruled, the ESDC's rationale was "only minimally" supported before, it would seem that that minimal support erodes entirely due to the facts subsequently revealed in the Atlantic Yards Development Agreement.
What is the significance of this case and the possible outcomes? Please read more from Norman Oder on his Atlantic Yards Report. Oder writes:
...Given general judicial deference to the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) and other agencies, it's a long shot to expect a ruling in favor of the petitioners, community groups organized by Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) and BrooklynSpeaks.
However, the petitioners have some inconvenient facts to air in court regarding the dubiousness of the official ten-year project timeline.
If the case is successful, it could severely slow the project--at least the non-arena portion--by requiring new analyses of the project's environmental impact...