State orders new environmental study for Atlantic Yards project

June 27, 2012 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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The state Court of Appeals yesterday denied a motion to appeal a July 2011 decision that ordered the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) and Forest City Ratner to revisit its 2009 modification of its Atlantic Yards project plan and to conduct additional environmental analyses.

In practical terms, what this means is that Forest City Ratner must conduct a supplemental environmental impact study (SEIS).

Joe DePlasco, a spokesman for Forest City Ratner, said “We disagree with the decision but we accept it, and we’re prepared, as we said, to redo the SEIS for Phase 2.”

Phase 2 refers to the residential portion of the Atlantic Yards project. Phase 1, the Barclays Center sports and entertainment complex, is nearly finished and is scheduled to open this fall.

The group BrooklynSpeaks, which is highly critical of Atlantic Yards, termed the decision “a final defeat for Empire State Development Corporation and Forest City Ratner Companies in their attempt to extend construction of the Atlantic Yards project from 10 to 25 years.”

The original suit was filed in 2009 by BrooklynSpeaks, its allies and several elected officials, charging that ESDC approved Atlantic Yards’ 2009 Modified General Project Plan without sufficient study of the effects of a 25-year construction period on surrounding communities. The original estimate of the build-out of the project was 10 years.

Members of local civic organizations who supported the lawsuit were quick to praise the ruling.

Danae Oratowski, chair of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council, said, “We urgently need not just an SEIS, but also establishment of proper oversight to ensure that agreed-upon mitigations for construction impacts are monitored and enforced.”

Michael Cairl, president of the Park Slope Civic Council, said, “Our elected officials must demand accountability from the SEIS process. While the arena may be nearing completion, the impact of the project on local individuals, families and businesses is just beginning. The SEIS must develop in good faith plans and alternatives to complete the Atlantic Yards project on its original schedule.”

“Today’s action by the Court of Appeals demonstrates that neither powerful developers nor state agencies are above the law,” said Council Member Letitia James, whose district includes the Atlantic Yards project.

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