Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Another win for Ratner; state appellate court denies appeal on relocation case

In November, as I reported, a state appellate court unanimously upheld the relocation plan for 13 residential tenants due to be displaced by the Atlantic Yards development. The attorney for the tenants wanted to appeal that case to the Court of Appeals, the state's highest court, but that appeal, which is at the discretion of the appellate court that upheld the relocation plan, has been denied.

The case, known as Matter of Anderson v. New York State Urban Development Corporation (the latter now doing business as the Empire State Development Corporation, or ESDC), was the second brought by attorney George Locker on behalf of 13 tenants (12 in rent-stabilized units) at 624 Pacific Street and 473 Dean Street. He has since filed a third case challenging the timetable for the project.

Locker had contended that it was impossible for his clients to find similar rent-stabilized apartments. The court's ruling in November didn't quite address that, but relied on the fact that the law requires only a "feasible" method for relocation:
The petitioners do not challenge the finding, reflected in the FEIS, that only 146 residents would be displaced by the project, and that this number of residents constitutes less than one-tenth of one percent of the residents within a three-quarter-mile radius of the project. In these circumstances, the petitioners’ argument that the respondent was required to conduct an additional study of the availability of housing in the area is without merit, and the plan for services to the displaced residents that the respondent has adopted, including professional relocation consulting, real estate brokerage and moving services, the payment of moving expenses, and an additional monetary payment for other ancillary expenses, provides a sufficient foundation for the respondent’s finding that a feasible method for relocation exists.


Locker had said that this case was the only one formally blocking the ESDC from moving to condemn properties. Still, it’s likely the agency wouldn’t proceed against plaintiffs in the eminent domain case until the latter case--currently on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court--is resolved.

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