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BROOKLYN     Press Release Main Page

For Immediate Release: December 10, 2009

Atlantic Yards Eminent Domain Plaintiffs
Request Reargument in Court of Appeals

Ask Court to Hold Decision on Request
Until It Decides Columbia Case

Eminent Domain Ruling Against ESDC/Columbia
Gives New Life to Brooklyn Owners and Tenants
Fighting to Save Their Homes and Businesses

BROOKLYN, NY — The Atlantic Yards eminent domain issue will not go away. The legal fight against the Empire State Development Corporation's use of eminent domain to seize Brooklyn homes and businesses so developer Forest City Ratner can build a private arena and luxury condominiums continues. 

Today plaintiffs in the Atlantic Yards case (Goldstein et al v. NY Urban Development Corp.) are asking the Court of Appeals to reconsider its November 24 decision, and specifically requesting that the Court hold any final decision on today's motion and appeal until the Court rules on the Columbia eminent domain case, which it will hear early next year. 

The Appellate Division, First Department's, December 3rd ruling (Kaur v. NY Urban Development Corp.) in favor of property owners found that the Empire State Development Corporation engaged in a scheme to seize their properties by eminent domain for Columbia University's expansion plan.  The ruling is the first to date that has exposed the ESDC's illegal activity and it has created confusion in New York's courts regarding eminent domain and "blight." 

"We do not bring this motion for reargument lightly. But this is an extraordinary situation.  It's not every day that a court rules that the ESDC has conspired with an influential private party to violate the constitutional right to property" said Matthew Brinckerhoff, an attorney representing the Brooklyn plaintiffs. "Given the Columbia and Atlantic Yards rulings, no one knows whether their property is now vulnerable to the ESDC engaging in the same pattern.  We need clarity concerning the ESDC's fraudulent abuse of the ‘blight' issue.  . The ESDC has been unmasked as a serial eminent domain abuser. We've reached a tipping point where that agency's actions regarding condemnation have lost all legitimacy."

The Columbia ruling, in stark contrast to the Atlantic Yards ruling only nine days prior, presents an extraordinary and compelling situation warranting reargument in the State's high Court. The ESDC's blight determination in the Columbia case was thrown out in a 3-2 decision that deemed it to be nothing more than "sophistry" and "idiocy." The post-hoc justification of blight to allow for what is an impermissible private taking of private property by ESDC, is the same in both cases. There is no common understanding or standard criteria used by ESDC and its blight consultant AKRF—in each case paid by the developers—to determine what "blight" is. 

The ESDC in furtherance of Columbia's scheme and Forest City Ratner's scheme, found so-called "blight" precisely where the university and Ratner asked them to, and found it years after each had introduced their plans to remove neighborhoods for their benefit.

The situation now is that "blight" means whatever the agency and its consultant, on behalf of private developers, says it means.

The motion papers can be found at:

DEVELOP DON'T DESTROY BROOKLYN leads a broad-based community coalition
fighting for development that will unite our communities instead of dividing and destroying them
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