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don't destroy

BROOKLYN     Press Release Main Page

For Immediate Release: February 7, 2006

South South Brooklyn Legal Services Joins Lawsuit Against
Empire State Development Corporation and Forest City Ratner
Low-income Advocates Seek Injunction on Rubber-stamped Demolition Approval and Disqualification of Conflicted Attorney

MANHATTAN,NY - South Brooklyn Legal Services (SBLS), a non-profit law firm serving low-income clients, has joined Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) and over a dozen co-plaintiff community organizations in a lawsuit challenging ESDC's declaration of emergency that would allow Forest City Ratner to demolish six buildings in the proposed "Atlantic Yards" footprint.† The lawsuit also calls for the disqualification of the Empire State Development Corporation's (ESDC) outside attorney on "Atlantic Yards" who appears to have a conflict of interest.† The attorney, David Paget (Sive, Paget & Riesel), has represented Forest City Ratner (FCR) on the same development proposal the state corporation is charged with reviewing objectively. Mr. Paget approved FCR's proposed demolition.

SBLS is seeking to intervene on behalf of a building of low-income, rent-stabilized, long-term tenants in Prospect Heights who would be displaced by eminent domain, and whose homes, situated where Ratner's arena is proposed, would be demolished if the project is approved.

Jennifer Levy, Co-Director of SBLS's Housing Law Unit is the attorney on the case. "Our plaintiffs challenge the demolition on the grounds that ESDC failed to seek any independent evidence that the buildings slotted for demolition are unsafe," Ms. Levy said. "In addition, ESDC's special counsel appears to have a serious conflict of interest and should be disqualified."

In order to obtain an emergency declaration, the developer had to show that the emergency measures to be employed were limited and temporary, and designed to cause the least possible environmental damage under the rules of the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA), which currently governs the Ratner proposal.† Demolition is not limited and temporary, and the ESDC has failed to even consider whether there might be a less drastic remedy than demolition until the environmental review process can be completed.

Develop Don't Destroy spokesman Daniel Goldstein said, "These demolitions would serve to subvert the environmental review process and sully the integrity of that process. We and our co-plaintiffs are proud to be allied with such a well-respected organization as South Brooklyn Legal Services. We are pleased that they concur with the merits of the lawsuit we have brought and have joined us in representing the interest of the public, especially some of our most vulnerable neighbors."

The court date for the hearing on the preliminary injunction is set for:
Tuesday, February 14th
9:30 AM
Supreme Court of the State of New York, New York County
60 Centre Street
Honorable Justice Carol Edmead presiding

South Brooklyn Legal Services: Intervention Motion and Intervention Memo (pdfs)

South Brooklyn Legal Services is a not-for-profit organization
that has been providing free civil legal services to low-income people in Brooklyn for over 30 years.

All lawsuit related documents and information can can be found here.

Photos of some of the buildings slated for demolition.

DEVELOP DONíT DESTROY BROOKLYN leads a broad-based community coalition
fighting for development that will unite our communities instead of dividing and destroying them.
We oppose Forest City Ratner's "Atlantic Yards" proposal in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.
Over 5,000 members.