BrooklynSpeaks cites new evidence as it asks court to reconsider MGPP case

On April 8th, a group of BrooklynSpeaks sponsors, elected officials and individual petitioners filed a motion asking that the Court reconsider its decision not to reverse approval of the Atlantic Yards Modified General Project Plan (MGPP). The petitioners are asking Judge Friedman to review new evidence that was not considered when she made her decision.

The new evidence consists of a master development agreement that was executed between the developer, Forest City Ratner (FCR) and other parties in the Atlantic Yards project, after the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) had already agreed to approve the Modified General Project Plan. That agreement was withheld from public disclosure until after the hearing in the case.

“Now that the agreement is available,” said Jo Anne Simon, Democratic Leader of the 52nd Assembly District, “it’s clear that ESDC’s approval of the Atlantic Yards’ Modified General Project Plan was illegal. The ESDC didn’t require the developer to prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) even though the agency was willing to agree to allow construction to extend well beyond the 10 year period that had been evaluated in the 2006 EIS.”

In her ruling, Judge Friedman relied heavily on a representation in the MGPP that the leases for the sixteen separate building parcels would contain a covenant requiring FCR to use “commercially reasonable efforts” to complete the entire project by 2019. “The master development agreement now confirms that that the 10-year construction period to which ESDC limited its analysis of construction impacts is a fiction,” said Lauri Schindler of the Park Slope Civic Council.

“The extended construction schedule will subject the adjoining residential neighborhoods to construction noise, dust, air pollution, traffic blockages and empty lots for 25 years or more – a negative situation that was never addressed in the 2006 EIS or the 2009 Technical Memorandum,” explained Deb Howard, Executive Director of the Pratt Area Community Council. “The ESDC has a responsibility to evaluate the impacts of the project it agreed to, not the project it wishes would be built,” she continued.

With this new evidence, the court will have a fresh opportunity to review the ESDC’s decision meaningfully, giving it the hard look the law requires and to determine that ESDC’s decision not to prepare a supplemental EIS was arbitrary, capricious and an abuse of discretion.

“Atlantic Yards remains as the only State project with no formal oversight or meaningful public representation in decision-making. We are hopeful that the court will reconsider its decision and rule in favor of the community. It is long past time that the special treatment enjoyed by this developer end, and Atlantic Yards is brought onto the same playing field as other large ESDC projects,” said Gib Veconi of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council.