Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The speedy FEIS? Ratner anticipates AY approval in a matter of weeks

Consultants at AKRF working on the Atlantic Yards Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) must be working overtime. Though the comment period on the Draft EIS ended on September 29, with lengthy submissions on the final day, developer Forest City Ratner (FCR) anticipates that the Final EIS will be certified by the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) during the first week in November.

Then, according to the timeline handed out to Prospect Heights residents by FCR officials at a community meeting Monday, ten days later the ESDC will hold a special meeting to approve the EIS and eminent domain findings, and to approve the General Project Plan (GPP).

[Update: the ESDC says the timetable's not accurate.]

Note the certainty expressed that the agency will approve the project, and that the Public Authorities Control Board (PACB) is expected to approve it. Do the findings in the FEIS make any difference?

Who's in charge here?

The ESDC hasn't told us this timeline. There's no mention of such meetings on the agency web site, on the Borough President's web site, or on the mayor's web site. Nor has the developer announced it on AtlanticYards.com.

I know about this only because some project opponents who live near the church where the meeting was held got wind of the gathering and decided to attend--and forwarded me this graphic.

What's required, what's not

Note that the Final EIS is a disclosure document, not a mitigation document. It must disclose the environmental impacts of the project, and potential mitigations, but the ESDC board--as it undoubtedly will do--can simply decide that the benefits of the project outweigh any potential costs.

Also note that this is where Forest City Ratner and the state can make additional tweaks to the project. Might the GPP include another small reduction in the project size? Might the developer respond to criticism of the project plan by making the publicly accessible (but privately managed) open space somewhat more like public parks? Or revamping the transportation management plan?

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