Norman Oder takes a long look at New York State's briefs on appeal of the Supreme Court ruling that requires the Empire State Development Corporation to undertake a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. ESDC argues that the court usurped agency discretion. The ESDC certainly knows a thing or two about usurpation, such as usurping all NYC zoning laws and 22 acres of Brooklyn to construct a money-losing arena and massive parking lots for a politically connected developer.
But we digress. The plaintiffs on the case, which include DDDB, have made clear, and the court agreed, that the ESDC acted arbitrarily and capriciously in its decision making "process":
In new briefs, ESDC and Forest City ask appeals court to overturn decision ordering new environmental review for Phase 2 of Atlantic Yards
Atlantic Yards Report
The battle over the last remaining Atlantic Yards lawsuit continues in court, with new briefs from the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) and developer Forest City Ratner.
The state agency, decrying an "unprecedented judicial usurpation of agency discretion," slams state Supreme Court Justice Marcy Friedman for imposing what it says are her views on how to analyze the potential impact of an extended project buildout lasting 25 years, rather than the officially announced ten years.
Similarly, Forest City denounces "an unprecedented expansion and distortion of SEQRA [State Environmental Quality Review Act], and an improper substitution by the court of its judgment for that of ESDC."
Thus, contends the agency, her decision, which required the ESDC to conduct a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) regarding Phase 2--the eleven towers outside the arena block and Site 5--should be reversed both because judges should defer to agency decisions, as well as "the record here, which makes clear that ESDC took multiple SEQRA 'hard looks' at the impacts of the Project under various construction schedules."
The briefs by ESDC and Forest Citywill get a response from the two coalitions (led by Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn and the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council/BrooklynSpeaks) that brought the (now-combined) lawsuit.
But the whole thing's a bit surreal.
Why? Because statements made outside the record by developer Bruce Ratner make a mockery of the agency's longstanding claims the project would last ten years. Moreover, a regular pattern of construction-related abuses means that the mitigation plan created by and cited by the state is less "robust" than asserted.