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About DDDB
Our coalition consists of 21 community organizations and there are 51 community organizations formally aligned in opposition to the Ratner plan.

DDDB is a volunteer-run organization. We have over 5,000 subscribers to our email newsletter, and 7,000 petition signers. Over 800 volunteers have registered with DDDB to form our various teams, task-forces and committees and we have over 150 block captains. We have a 20 person volunteer legal team of local lawyers supplementing our retained attorneys.

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"Why should people get to see plans? This isn't a public project."
Bruce Ratner in Crain's Nov. 8, 2009

Think of Kelo, But Remember Poletown and County of Wayne v. Hathcock Too

Norman Oder makes a strong argument
that the NY State Court of Appeals will think about Kelo when considering its own legacy when it rules on the Atlatnic Yards eminent domain case in the coming days.

But they should also look to and think deeply about Poletown and County of Wayne v. Hathcock.

Before Kelo and New London, Michigan courts made a horrific decision in 1981 to allow massive property takings in Poletown (the nickname of a Detroit neighborhood) for so-called "economic development." Twenty-three years later, Michigan's high court overturned that ruling, far too late for that neighborhood and the thousands who were forced out. And, as is always the case, the pie-in-the-sky benefits never panned out.

New York can and should forestall this outcome in Brooklyn.

Professor Ilya Somin wrote the following oped shortly after the Michigan Supreme Court ruling overturning Poletown:

Poletown decision did not create desired benefits; new ruling protects weak from government abuses
Michigan court fuels fight about future of urban development
By Ilya Somin / Special to The Detroit News. August 8, 2004

The Michigan Supreme Court has overruled one of the worst judicial decisions of modern times. In County of Wayne v. Hathcock, the court reversed the infamous 1981 Poletown decision that allowed Detroit to use the power of eminent domain to take and bulldoze an entire neighborhood so General Motors could build a new factory. As a result of Poletown, more than 4,200 people lost their homes, 600 businesses and 16 churches were destroyed, and a historic community — known as Poletown after its large Polish-American population — was wiped out.

Poletown set a dangerous precedent for similar abuses of government power in Michigan and elsewhere. The court’s unanimous decision to overrule it is a major victory for the constitutional rights of all property owners. Hathcock restores the traditional principle that government may not, except under unusual circumstances, take private property for the purpose of giving it to other private individuals or corporations.
Under most state constitutions, including Michigan’s, government may only take private property for a “public use.” Originally, this restriction was interpreted to allow condemnation of property only to carry out necessary functions of government, such as to build public roads. The public use test traditionally forbade most takings that transferred private property to other private hands. Courts rightly reasoned that the power to condemn property should not be abused to enable the wealthy and politically influential to appropriate their neighbors’ property for their own benefit.

Poletown undermined this safeguard. It permitted the condemnation of property for transfer to private hands, so long as the action created a public benefit by “bolster[ing] the economy.” As the Hathcock opinion explains, Poletown’s “economic benefit” rationale “would validate practically any exercise of the power of eminent domain on behalf of a private entity.” The court notes that Poletown rendered “one’s ownership of private property ... forever subject to the government’s determination that another private party would put one’s land to better use.” Therefore, property rights were “perpetually threatened by the expansion plans of any large [business].”

Homeowners and nonprofit property owners were particularly vulnerable to condemnations justified under Poletown. Because they make little or no profit from their property, it could always be argued that a large for-profit business would use their land in a more economically productive way.

Ironically, condemnations that transfer property to private businesses usually don’t even provide the economic benefits their advocates promise. General Motors and Detroit Mayor Coleman Young promised that the new factory would create more than 6,000 jobs. In reality, the plant employed less than half that many workers; possibly, more jobs were lost from the destruction of Poletown than were created by the factory.

This result is typical...

Continue reading

Posted: 11.18.09
DDDB.net en español.
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Eminent Domain Case
Goldstein et al v. ESDC
[All case files]

November 24, 2009
Court of Appeals

[See ownership map]

EIS Lawsuit

DDDB et al v ESDC et al
Click for a summary of the lawsuit seeking to annul the review and approval the Atlantic Yards project.

Appeal briefs are here.

Appellate Divsion
Rules for ESDC
What would Atlantic Yards Look like?...
Photo Simulations
Before and After views from around the project footprint revealing the massive scale of the proposed luxury apartment and sports complex.

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Screening Schedule
Isabel Hill's
"Atlantic Yards" documentary
Brooklyn Matters

Read a review
Atlantic Yards
would be
Click image to see why:

-No Land Grab.org

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