Brooklyn Group Files New Suit to Stop Atlantic Yards Construction

A group of Brooklyn community organizations has launched a new effort to stop construction at the Atlantic Yards site.

On Nov. 24, several members of the BrooklynSpeaks coalition filed a motion in State Supreme Court contending that the construction is illegal, because the Empire State Development Corporation approved it without considering the environmental impact of 25 years of construction. The ESDC assumed the project would be complete within 10 years.

The door for the motion was opened Nov. 9, when State Supreme Court Justice Marcy Friedman ruled that the schedule agreed upon by the ESDC and developer Forest City Ratner raised “a substantial question” whether the 10-year timeline had “a rational basis.” The “Development Agreement” allowed Forest City Ratner 25 years before the project’s second phase was completed, and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority gave the developer until 2030 to acquire the air rights needed to construct six of the buildings in that phase.

Judge Friedman ordered the ESDC to reconsider whether the 2009 Modified General Project Plan required a supplemental environmental-impact statement. The ESDC approved that plan “without a reasoned basis for assuming Atlantic Yards would be complete in ten years,” Al Butzel, attorney for the BrooklynSpeaks petitioners, said in a statement, so “the agency violated New York State environmental law. As such, the work proceeding at the site now is underway illegally.”

Project opponents accuse the ESDC and Ratner of misrepresenting the impact of 25 years of construction on air quality and traffic in the surrounding neighborhoods, and note that the affordable housing promised in Atlantic Yards will be among the last parts completed. “The difference between 10 and 25 years is a long time to wait for affordable housing,” Deb Howard, executive director of the Pratt Area Community Council, said in the statement.