Highlights from the Hearings

As has been noted around this site and others the past week, opponents of the proposed Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn, which would feature a new arena for the Nets, got their day in New York State’s highest court today, arguing against the use of eminent domain needed in order to develop the project.

John Brennan’s report in the Bergen Record described the proceedings as a mixed bag for the opposition:

Attorney Matthew Brinckerhoff, who represented nine tenants and business owners within the project’s footprint, had barely begun his opening statement about possible violation of the “public use” clause of the state’s eminent domain law when he was interrupted by Chief Justice Jonathan Lippman.

Lippman pointed out that New York had steadily expanded the concept of “public use” over the years, and several others on the seven-member panel pursued that line of questioning.

The plaintiff was also questioned about whether or not the suit was filed too late:

“Isn’t it weird to have a six-month grace period on a 30-day statute of limitations?” asked Justice Robert Smith.

Meanwhile, Philip Karmel, representing the Empire State Development Corporation was also under fire from the justices:

Smith asked whether the state had “gerrymandered” an area combining blighted and non-blighted property to suit the desires of developer Forest City Ratner. The justices also suggested that the blight designation arose as a legal convenience only a couple of years after Ratner announced the proposal in 2003.

While there was initially speculation by some that this would be one of the last legal roadblocks thrown up by opponents over this move to Brooklyn, we saw earlier this week a new suit against the Metropolitan Transportation Authority protesting their sale of Atlantic Yards property to the developer. In other words, the fight goes on and Nets owner Bruce Ratner essentially has until the end of the year to get financing in place for this project or the whole deal will likely get scuttled.


Here’s a little color featuring the Atlantic Yards opponents before headed up to Albany this morning.