Saturday, August 12, 2006

Yankee Stadium project got twice the time Atlantic Yards has for review

So how much time is appropriate for concerned parties to review the Draft Environmental Impact Statement and other documents released regarding the Atlantic Yards project? The minimum is 30 days, but larger projects get a longer review period.

For Atlantic Yards, the time frame is 66 days, The schedule has been defended by the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) and Borough President Marty Markowitz.

Frontrunning gubernatorial candidate Eliot Spitzer and several local elected officials have called for 30 more days. The Municipal Art Society has advocated "significantly increasing" the time for comments.

The Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods has called for an additional 60 days, pointing out that the Draft Environmental Impact Statement "itself is over 2000 pages and the General Project plan is in excess of 1000 pages."

Four months for the Yankees

Is there any precedent for a four-month review period? Perhaps not from the ESDC, but other agencies that have examined major projects have granted more time.

For example, the city's Yankee Stadium project received a nearly four-month review, as the notice, issued on 9/23/05, stated that "Written comments... will be accepted by the NYCDPR [NYC Department of Parks and Recreation] until the 10th calendar day following the close of the public hearing."

The public hearing was held on 1/11/06, so the comment period closed 1/21/06, a stretch of nearly four months. And the Final Environmental Impact Statement, which incorporated additions to the DEIS, was "only" 730 pages long.

Politics and pragmatism

So there is a precedent. But politics may trump precedent; the sooner the project is approved, the more likely groundbreaking may occur under the administration of Gov. George Pataki, rather than his successor, likely Spitzer.

Then again, the inevitable lawsuits regarding this project could delay the approval process whether or not the hearing proceeds on August 23 and the comment period closes September 22.

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