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don't destroy

BROOKLYN     Press Release Main Page

For Immediate Release: April 5, 2007

26 Co-Petitioners File Lawsuit Against the
Empire State Development Corporation,
PACB, MTA and Forest City Ratner Companies

Community Lawsuit Seeks to Annul Fatally Flawed
Environmental Impact Statement and Approval of
Forest City Ratner's "Atlantic Yards"Project

BROOKLYN, NY— Today twenty-six co-petitioners filed an Article 78 and Declaratory Judgment lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court (New York County) to annul the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and approval of Forest City Ratner's "Atlantic Yards"project. The suit alleges that former Governor Pataki's Empire State Development Corporation's (ESDC) FEIS was fatally flawed on substantive and procedural grounds. (Read a summary of the complaint).

Annulment of the FEIS would require the undertaking of a new and credible environmental impact analysis by Governor Spitzer's ESDC, and a new vote by the Public Authorities Control Board (PACB) for the 22-acre, 16-skyscraper, and arena real development plan in Prospect Heights and Park Slope, Brooklyn. Defendants on the suit include the ESDC, the PACB, the MTA and Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC).

The suit also seeks to enjoin demolition with a preliminary injunction.

The lawsuit has broad community support with co-petitioners representing all of the communities surrounding the project site, and beyond, including: Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB), the 41-member coalition Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods (CBN), New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), Sierra Club, Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats (CBID), Fort Greene Association, Society for Clinton Hill, Boerum Hill Association, Crown Heights North Association, Park Slope Neighbors, Fort Greene Park Conservancy, and Friends and Residents of Greater Gowanus, as well as fifteen other community organizations and block associations.

Jeffrey S. Baker of Young, Sommer, Ward, Ritzenberg, Baker & Moore is the lead attorney.

"The ESDC's rush to reach the pre-determined outcome of its 'Atlantic Yards' review before the end of the Pataki administration led to a fatally-flawed environmental review, and violations of its statutory procedures and responsibilities,"said lead attorney Jeffrey Baker. "Our suit seeks to annul the environmental review and approval of 'Atlantic Yards' by Charles Gargano's Empire State Development Corporation, the Public Authorities Control Board, and the MTA, necessitating a fresh look from Governor Spitzer, his new ESDC and MTA, and the PACB."

"It has been clear for a long time that the ESDC set out to approve Mr. Ratner's project by any means necessary, rather than work on behalf of the public and protect it from the extreme negative impacts of a project of this scale and extreme density. The ESDC served the public poorly by producing an unrealistic environmental review while grossly under-reporting the impacts, refusing to demand mitigation of those impacts, and basically ignoring all substantial public input. That is why we were compelled to file this lawsuit on behalf of and along with the other 25 co-petitioners who stand with us today,"said DDDB legal chair Candace Carponter. "It is striking to note that the ESDC did not demand or effectuate even one significant change or modification of the project Forest City Ratner proposed at the start of the environmental review process."

"The Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods provided every possible assistance to the ESDC to help them arrive at a fair and impartial assessment of the impacts of this project. CBN conducted an extensive survey of community members in response to the Draft Scope of Analysis; engaged highly qualified consultants to decipher and analyze the Draft EIS; successfully engaged citizens in providing extensive comments to the ESDC; and reported all of the information gathered to the ESDC freely, and within the very short period of time they dictated," said CBN co-chair Terry Urban. "Unfortunately, the bulk of the community's input was ignored, and CBN, with membership from 41 community organizations, is compelled to demand that such egregious disservice to the public be corrected."

New York City Councilwoman Letitia James, who represents the district in which the project would be located, said, "The preliminary injunction sought by this lawsuit would postpone demolition while protecting my community and constituents for intimidating and premature destruction. Once the buildings are torn down they cannot be put back, and the injury to the community - a landscape of empty lots and 'interim surface parking' lots, plus the loss of the familiar buildings that comprise their neighborhood - is irreparable."

"The huge density of the proposed development would bring more havoc to drivers and transit riders in downtown Brooklyn, adversely impacting dozens of intersections," said Gene Russianoff, senior attorney for the New York Public Interest Research Group and its Straphangers Campaign. "The environmental impact statement offers ridiculous suggestions, such as asking transit officials to put more buses on gridlocked streets, where they will just add to traffic; no suggestions for giving buses priority are made. To paraphrase my daughters, the EIS is lame. "

All legal papers filed can be found here: http://www.dddb.net/FEIS

Petitioners on the lawsuit:
Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, Inc.
Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods, Inc.
NY Public Interest Research Group, Inc.
Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats (CBID)
Sierra Club, Inc.
Atlantic Avenue Betterment Association, Inc.
The Brooklyn Bear’s Gardens, Inc.
Bergen Street-Prospect Heights Block Association, Inc.
Boerum Hill Association, Inc.
Brooklyn Vision Foundation, Inc.
Carlton Avenue Association, Inc.
Carroll Street Block Association (5th and 6th Ave), Inc.
Crown Heights North Association, Inc.
Dean Street Block Association, Inc. (4th to 5th Ave)
East Pacific Block Association, Inc.
Fort Greene Association, Inc.
Fort Greene Park Conservancy, Inc.
Friends and Residents of Greater Gowanus
Park Slope Neighbors, Inc.
Park Place-Underhill Avenue Block Association
Prospect Heights Action Coalition
Prospect Place of Brooklyn Block Association, Inc.
Society for Clinton Hill, Inc.
South Oxford Street Block Association
South Portland Avenue Block Association, Inc.
Zen Environmental Studies Institute, Ltd.

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