By Frank James
Few U.S. Supreme Court cases stoked widespread public outrage in recent years like Kelo v. City of New London in which the high court ruled that it was constitutional for the Connecticut city to take a homeowner's property and hand it over to a private developer since the public would gain from the expected economic boon.
The anger ran so broadly that it created rare agreement between groups as ideologically diverse as the American Conservative Union and the NAACP.
But Kelo remains the law of the land. Which would seem to raise the difficulty level for the New York land and business owners and tenants who failed in their attempt to have a New York Appellate Court stop New York state from taking their property for a private development in Brooklyn called Atlantic Yards, which would include the planned new Barclays Center home of the New Jersey Nets.
As NPR's Margot Adler reported for the network's newscast:
There have been some eight lawsuits filed against the project in the last three years by tenants and business owners who say the Atlantic Yards development project is unconstitutional.
They argue that the $4.9 billion project would mainly enrich private interests, and that the state constitution says that taking land must be for public use.
The project would include a new arena for the New Jersey Nets and some 16 high-rise towers, most of them residential.
Opponents plan to continue their fight, and developer Bruce Ratner has to contend with other lawsuits.
But the Court of Appeals clearly took a negative view toward the lawsuits and some say this is the last major hurdle Ratner has to face. He plans to begin selling tax-free bonds to finance the project, next month.
Again, given the Supreme Court's Kelo decision and the New York State Court of Appeals deciding the case by a fairly wide margin, those fighting to keep from being displaced by the new Atlantic Yards development would appear to have a difficult uphill climb.
The Atlantic Yards deal is interesting for a few reasons, including the involvement of Russia's richest man, Mikhail Prokhorov, who has agreed to pay $200 million for an 80 percent stake in the Nets and 45 percent of the arena.
categories: National News