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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
Tuesday, February 14th
Supreme Court of the State of New York, New York County
60 Centre Street
Honorable Justice Carol Edmead presiding
DEVELOP DONíT DESTROY BROOKLYN
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
Over 5,000 members.