Saturday, January 19, 2008

TRO denied regarding environmental lawsuit; will appeal be expedited?

In an unsurprising decision, a state appellate judge yesterday denied a temporary restraining order (TRO) to block the closure of the Carlton Avenue Bridge sought by the petitioners in the lawsuit challenging the Atlantic Yards environmental review. As part of the appeal of Supreme Court Justice Joan Madden's January 11 decision, the petitioners have asked for a TRO and preliminary injunction to block this "permanent change in the environment of Brooklyn including significant impacts on traffic and significant delays for Fire Department emergency responders."

Should work begin, and petitioners ultimately succeed with their appeal, it's possible that there won't be a working bridge nor adequate funding to reconstruct it, argued petitioners' attorney Jeffrey Baker. Forest City Ratner has argued in the past that any delay increases the cost of the project and delays the expected benefits.

Associate Justice Angela M. Mazzarelli of the Appellate Division, First Department, denied the request, pending a hearing on a motion for an injunction to block the project from moving forward without a final decision on the lawsuit, according to Candace Carponter, legal chair of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn. The burden was high, since the petitioners must argue irreparable injury and the likelihood of prevailing on the merits.

"The only way to preserve our rights is to file these motions," she said.

But isn't the issue in some ways moot, given that the TRO was denied, and work on the bridge is supposed to begin January 23? It seems so, but Carponter said maybe not, given that the work has already been delayed a week.

Appeal schedule

Carponter said that the defendants, including the Empire State Development Corporation and Forest City Ratner, will by next Friday file a motion for an expedited appeal, asking that the appellate court arguments be heard in the next few months rather than in September, which Carponter said would be the usual schedule.

The final volley of papers regarding the expedited appeal and the request for a stay is due February 5.

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