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BROOKLYN     Press Release Main Page


For Immediate Release: December 3, 2009

Not So Fast, It’s Not Over
Court’s Decision in Columbia Case Breathes New Life Into Case Against
Eminent Domain for Brooklyn Atlantic Yards Project


Victory Against Eminent Domain Abuse
Looks Like Tipping Point In Statewide Fight


BROOKLYN, NY — The Atlantic Yards project suffers a blow. 

In an important decision with far-reaching ramifications, New York’s Supreme Court Appellate Division (First Department) ruled today that the Empire State Development Corporation cannot seize private properties by eminent domain to give to Columbia University.  

The property owners and tenants in the Atlantic Yards eminent domain case, Goldstein et al. v NY Urban Development Corp., were thrown a lifeline today by a Manhattan state appellate court.  In a 3-2 decision the Appellate Division ruled that the state agency violated the Constitution when it found that the Manhattanville area near Columbia University was blighted and thus subject to seizure and transfer to the private university.  

“The timing of the ruling is certainly propitious,” said Matthew Brinckerhoff, lead counsel for the home and business owners who just nine days ago had lost the first stage of their legal challenge to the confiscation of their properties.  “As Justice Catterson rightly observed the Empire State Development Corporation’s abusive practices are the height of ‘idiocy.’  In the next few days, we will file a motion asking the Court of Appeals to reconsider its ruling in our case, based on this new indictment of the agency’s standard operating procedure.  We know that the Court of Appeals will now review the Columbia University ruling, and we are optimistic that the abuse of power detailed in Justice Catterson’s powerful opinion, combined with the agency’s similar conduct in the Atlantic Yards case will cause a few of the Judges who already expressed skepticism to reconsider their decision.  This will give us a rare second bite at the apple. We will not waste it.”

“My co-plaintiffs and I will fight every way possible to keep our homes and businesses from being seized. It is clear to me that the Catterson opinion speaks directly to the very same abuses perpetrated by the ESDC in its attempts to push Ratner’s project forward. Today's Columbia ruling gives us good reason for hope that our rights to enjoy our properties will be restored by the Court,” said Daniel Goldstein lead plaintiff on the Atlantic Yards eminent domain case.



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