Release Main Page
Release: February 8, 2006
City Councilwoman Letitia James, State Senator Velmanette Montgomery
and Congressman Major Owens
Join In Filing an Amicus Brief Against
Empire State Development Corporation and Forest City Ratner
Elected Officials Representing Proposed Ratner Development
Support Suit Seeking Injunction on Rubber-stamped Demolition Approval
Disqualification of Conflicted Attorney
MANHATTAN, NY - Three elected officials, each of
whom have fought to protect the public's interest in respect to Forest City
Ratner's "Atlantic Yards" development proposal, have asked a Manhattan Justice
to accept their amicus curiae or "friend of the court" brief. The
brief is in support of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) and over a
dozen co-plaintiff community organizations in their lawsuit challenging
the Empire State Development Corporation's (ESDC) Declaration of Emergency
that would allow Forest City Ratner (FCR) to demolish six buildings in the
proposed development footprint. The lawsuit also calls for the disqualification
of the ESDC's retained counsel on "Atlantic Yards" who quite apparently
has a conflict of interest. The attorney, David Paget of Sive, Paget & Riesel,
has, until very recently, represented FCR on the same development proposal
the ESDC is charged with reviewing objectively. Mr. Paget approved FCR's
Councilwoman Letitia James said, "My colleagues and I stand one hundred
percent with the plaintiffs–the people who would be most impacted by Forest
City Ratner's project. Our lawsuit asks for nothing more than what the state
law requires–that the environmental review be conducted in a fair and methodical
way, with objectivity and integrity."
The districts represented by Councilwoman Letitia James (35th District),
State Senator Velmanette Montgomery (18th District) and Congressman Major
Owens (11th District) include the entire footprint of FCR's proposed publicly
subsidized, 22-acre, mixed-use redevelopment project known as "Atlantic
Yards." Councilwoman James will argue in court on February 14th on behalf
of the application she and her colleagues have filed.
DDDB spokesman Daniel Goldstein said, "We believe Ratner's proposed demolitions
are intentionally pre-emptive and illegal. The demolitions would serve to
subvert and severely taint the integrity of the environmental review process,
already tainted by Mr. Paget's apparent conflict of interest." Goldstein
continued, "We are proud to be joined by these three elected officials who
are standing up for the public interest, while too many elected officials
are willing to ignore such conflicts and breaches of process. Our lawsuit
is about protecting the integrity of the sole avenue for public review of
Ratner's massive proposed development; every elected official who is concerned
with good government and democratic process ought to support this lawsuit."
Yesterday South Brooklyn Legal Servics (SBLS), a non-profit law firm serving
low-income clients, joined in the same lawsuit. 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.
The court date for the hearing on the preliminary injunction is
Tuesday, February 14th. 9:30 AM.
Supreme Court of the State of New York, New York County. 60 Centre Street.
before the Honorable Justice Carol Edmead
DEVELOP DON’T 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.