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Top Court Upholds Use of Eminent Domain on Atlantic Yards Project

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The state's highest court has upheld the legality of the Atlantic Yards project.

In a 6-to-1 decision handed down this morning, the Court of Appeals ruled against property owners and businesses in the development's footprint in Brooklyn . A majority of the judges said that the area was sufficiently blighted to justify the state's use of eminent domain. Some time next year, the state will turn property over to a private developer, Forest City Ratner, to make way for a basketball arena and housing complex.

One judge, Robert Smith, dissented, arguing that blight was never a "bona fide purpose" for the development but instead a justification invented after the project was conceived.

Opponents of the Atlantic Yards project say their fight isn't over. The group Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, the main plaintiff in the case, says the courts should have taken a closer look at the details of the alleged blight. Spokesperson Daniel Goldstein calls today's Court of Appeals ruling a "terrible day for taxpaying homeowners." Critics are also saying if the courts applied this criteria to all neighborhoods, they could determine that any neighborhood in the city was blighted.

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn plans to file another lawsuit next week in addition to four lawsuits that are already pending.

In a statement, Ratner said the courts have made it clear this project represents a significant public benefit. Ratner must break ground by December 31st or lose significant financing.

WNYC will have more coverage of the decision throughout the day.

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