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UPDATE: Order For Environmental Review of Atlantic Yards Contested

Empire State Development Corp. and Forest City Ratner plan to contest court decision made last July.

Update, 6:21 p.m.: Councilwoman Letitia James, D-Brooklyn, responded to news that ESDC and Forest City Ratner planned to oppose a court order for additional environmental review at the Atlantic Yards site:

"An environmental review of the project provides checks and balances, and is a process to protect community. It is obvious that the ESDC and FCRC do not want to spend time and money on a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement because they know other issues might come up that would need to be negotiated. Fighting the court decision ordering additional environmental review of the Atlantic Yards project is yet another stalling tactic by FCRC and ESDC that undermines the protection of the community provided by the New York State Supreme Court. Also, the community continues to wait for Governor Cuomo to follow through on his promises to reform State government, and make the Atlantic Yards project a benefit for Brooklyn."

Advocates for affordable housing around the Atlantic Yards site may have to wait even longer to get their wish.

BrooklynSpeaks announced yesterday that Empire State Development Corp. and Forest City Ratner Companies will fight a court decision made last July that of the Atlantic Yards project. The ruling came after two years of litigation that protested ESDC's plans to increase the length of the projection construction from 10 years to 25 years.

In filing the appeal, ESDC will now have their obligation to comply with the court order pushed back.

"Brooklyn can't wait 25 years for affordable housing at this site, and it shouldn't have to," said Michael Cairl, President of the Park Slope Civil Council. "It's time for ESDC to look at Atlantic Yards with a fresh pair of eyes, take advantage of the parcels that can support development now, and start building affordable housing for which there is demand right now."

Several city and state politicans including state Sens. Eric Adams and Velmanette Montgomery, both D-Brooklyn, signed a letter written by Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, D-Brooklyn, to Ken Adams, CEO of ESDC.

"More than seven years have passed since Atlantic Yards’ announcement, and almost five years have passed since its original plan was approved," wrote Jeffries in the letter. "In that time, we have seen the promises of affordable housing and local jobs move nearly a generation into the future."

The legislators are also protesting the removal of specific project elements introduced in the 2009 plan that were designed to reduce the impact of Atlantic Yards within a residential neighborhood.

“The 2009 Atlantic Yards plan may have been negotiated under the previous administration, but the July court decision makes it Governor Cuomo’s problem now," said Gib Veconi of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council. "We expected the Governor to follow through on his promises to reform State government, turn around delayed development at Atlantic Yards, and make this project work for Brooklyn and for New York State. Instead, it looks like he’s willing to continue to run interference for Forest City Ratner, and keep the community and its elected representatives tied up in court while Brooklynites wait for jobs and housing."

A representative for Forest City Ratner confirmed that ESDC will be protesting the ruling, but will undertake a supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) per the judges request.

Gib Veconi September 16, 2011 at 02:07 PM
ESDC's plan to undertake an SEIS while pursuing an appeal of the July State Supreme Court decision raises a question about how candid its environmental review will be. An ESDC spokeswoman recently told Atlantic Yards Report that the agency continues to take the position that extending the construction schedule from 10 to 25 years will not result in any additional environmental impact to the surrounding communities--a contention Justice Friedman greeted with extreme skepticism. Should ESDC approve an SEIS that attempts to reiterate this position, it may only set the stage for a new round of litigation. Instead, ESDC should withdraw its appeal and conduct an open and honest review of the 2009 MGPP (which was also ordered by the court), in order to determine how best to revise the plan so that key public benefits like affordable housing and local jobs can be delivered in timeframe under which the project was originally approved, and in a way that reduces the blighting effects of extended surface parking and construction staging on the surrounding neighborhoods. ESDC's SEIS must also consider the impact of other changes to the project that resulted from the 2009 MGPP but were never analyzed for environmental impact. This is the level of candor that should have been provided in 2009 and, as Justice Friedman wrote in March 2010, "the public was entitled to expect, particularly in light of the scale of the Project and its impact on the community."

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