DDDB Makes a Federal Case out of it

Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn filed its eminent domain lawsuit today on behalf of 10 plaintiffs, and it reveals two essential parts of the opposition’s legal strategy to fight Atlantic Yards.

For one, far from trying to battle last year’s Kelo v. New London all the way up to a U.S. Supreme Court re-hearing–which would not be preposterous given the popular backlash–the plaintiffs will use the 5-4 decision to its advantage. In the Kelo case, New London, Justice Stevens wrote, “has carefully formulated an economic development plan that it believes will provide appreciable benefits to the community.” By contrast, DDDB’s attorney Matthew Brinckerhoff said at the press conference today, Atlantic Yards “was driven entirely by Bruce Ratner” and Atlantic Yards is a case of the government “taking private property in order to enrich a private developer.”

In other words, it will be a case about one of our favorite subjects: urban planning.

Two, the plaintiffs are first filing in federal, rather than state, court, and before eminent domain procedures actually have begun (“because otherwise it would be too late,” Brinckerhoff said), which also suggests they feel Kelo will work for them, while New York state’s notoriously developer-friendly laws will not.

Forest City Ratner says in response: “This is simply a sad attempt to delay a project that is supported by over 60 percent of Brooklyn.”

-Matthew Schuerman