Off the condemned list
by Shane Miller
May 09, 2012 | 140 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The city last week dropped its condemnation proceedings at Willets Points, just days before a group of business owners were due back in court to challenge the city’s use of eminent domain.

Lawyers for Willets Point United, a group representing several of the larger business owners at the site, located just across the street from Citi Field, were to appear before a judge on Monday, May 7, in Brooklyn.

The city has said that despite dropping the case, however, it plans to move forward with its ambitious plan to develop all of the 62 acres at Willets Point. The initial condemnation that the city is no longer pursuing would have affected about 20 acres of the site, known as Phase 1.

One of the main arguments that lawyers for Willets Point United used in its case challenging the city was that the Economic Development Corporation had not received approval from the federal government for ramps connecting the area to the Van Wyck Expressway.

In earlier court documents, the city said that the project would not move forward without those approvals, but instead started condemnation of property at the site without those approvals.

Last month, the U.S. Department of Transportation gave the preliminary approval for those ramps.

A person familiar with the case speculated that the city realized it had a chance of losing the pending lawsuit, and instead decided to withdraw the condemnation, and would instead try to condemn all 62 acres at once at some point in the future, now that it looks like the necessary approvals will be granted.

If the city moves forward with a different proposal for Willets Point, it will likely have to go through another lengthy environmental review, which could hold up the project for years.

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