Atlantic Yards group appeals to Supreme Court

April 1, 2008 10:15:53 AM PDT
A group of property owners and tenants facing eviction to make room for a new NBA Nets arena in Brooklyn has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear its case. The Atlantic Yards project calls for 16 skyscrapers, an 18,000-seat arena for New Jersey's basketball franchise, and thousands of apartments. The area currently is occupied by a rail yard, industrial buildings, and some businesses and homes.

An appeals court in February rejected a lawsuit by the 11 property owners and tenants. The plaintiffs had argued that using eminent domain for the project would violate the Constitution because it would primarily benefit the developer, not the public.

Nets principal owner and project developer Bruce Ratner had called the lower court's decision a victory for the public good that would bring thousands of affordable homes and needed jobs to Brooklyn.

The development has been approved by state officials and praised by Mayor Michael Bloomberg as "the most exciting private development Brooklyn has ever seen."

"Unless the Supreme Court intervenes, the government will continue to have carte blanche to take private homes and businesses and give them to influential citizens as long as one can imagine a conceivable benefit to the public, no matter how small or unlikely it may be," said Matthew Brinckerhoff, the lawyer for the plaintiffs.

The Supreme Court is expected to decide in June whether to hear the group's petition.