The folks over at Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn have been paper-cutting Forest City Ratner for years now, with lawsuit after lawsuit, but they may almost be out of legal options. Today, the Appellate Division of the state Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the ESDC had not erred in its environmental review filing for Atlantic Yards.
The case wound up at the appellate court after it was declined by a lower court, but that hasn’t stopped Dan Goldstein and company from already pushing the issue to the next level:
Hopefully, the Court of Appeals will provide a standard to avoid the ludicrous outcome that, despite the significant questions about the improper motives of the ESDC and the inappropriate influence of the developer, the court’s hands are tied and constrained to uphold the approval of such a disastrous project.
Dad always said not to follow him into the lawyering business because there was too much politics at the bench, but we can’t help but think that it’s too much confusion. In this case, the justices said that while they sort of agreed with the plaintiff, precedent held that the ESDC could basically do what it wants. From the ruling:
While we do not agree with petitioners’ legal arguments, we understand those arguments to be made largely as proxies for very legitimate concerns as to the effect of a project of such scale upon the face and social fabric of the area in which it is to be put. Those concerns, however, have relatively little to do with the project’s legality and nearly everything to do with its socio-economic and aesthetic desirability, matters upon which we may not pass. To the extent that the fate of this multi-billion dollar project remains, in an increasingly forbidding economy, a matter of social and political volition, the controlling judgments as to its merits are the province of the policy-making branches of government, not the courts.
And so now onward to destiny. And more billable hours. Which may well be the point. With the collapse of the economy, Forest City Ratner is running out of time to find financing for the project before certain contracts expire. And so, in losing and thereby dragging things out after half-a-dozen legal challenges, DDDB can actually claim a win.
Still, Ratner seemed happy about his prospects in a release, one of very few since the project began to sour amid the economic crisis:
Once again the courts have decided in favor of Atlantic Yards. This project has been reviewed as thoroughly as any in the city and not it is time to put these cases behind us and get to work.
But there is also another case currently at the appellate division, which had its first hearing two days ago, and where the justices seemed to favor the plaintiffs. Could this be the end? The burning question thus remains: The return of Frank or a world of brownstone?