Atlantic Yards Court of Appeals Hearing
The first hearing in the eminent domain appeals case for the Atlantic Yards Project was heard today by the New York Court of Appeals, New York’s highest court.
The case, which has been ongoing for the past three years, was brought by a group of property owners who owned property on the site of the proposed basketball arena and apartment development.
Originally, the owners contended that the state of New York exceeded its constitutional authority in condemning their property for the project. The appellate court sided with the state last May; however the Court of Appeals agreed to hear the case just months later, which suggests that the case raised questions about the limits of state power in economic development that haven’t been answered.
Lawyers for the Empire State Development Corporation, the state authority sponsoring the project, argued that eminent domain was indeed necessary to promote economic development in the area, saying that the site that was chosen met the definition of a “blighted” area.
Lawyers representing the homeowners argue that deeming the area “blighted” was merely a justification for planning and development for the project.
Yesterday’s one-hour hearing consisted of questioning from several judges over what limits the state faced when it sought to condemn private property.
Some of the questions suggested, however, that the judges believed that the rights of the owners had not received enough consideration from state officials. The hearing will determine whether the Empire State Development Corp has the authority to condemn property and force owners to sell to Forest City Ratner Corp.