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BROOKLYN, NY-On Monday the Empire State Development Corp. approved the modified General Project Plan for the Atlantic Yards project and authorized eminent domain to seize the final properties needed for the project to go forward. The Public Authorities Control Board is the final hurdle developer Forester City Ratner Cos. must overcome. The PACB is expected to vote on the plan Dec. 20, although given the board’s track record it is uncertain if the project will receive the unanimous decision required.

“Today’s approval is another important milestone in the creation of tens of thousands of construction jobs, thousands of permanent jobs, and critically needed housing, including affordable housing,” Gov. George Pataki says in a statement.

The $4-billion Atlantic Yards project is taking a 22-acre blighted part of the Brooklyn and transforming it into a mixed-use area that will include a stadium for the New Jersey Nets basketball team. Forest City Ratner expects the project to generate 17,000 new residents, 22,000 construction jobs, and 5,000 jobs once the project is complete. The project is also expected to generate $944 million in tax revenues for New York State.

For the project to go forward, eminent domain may be needed to acquire the last property holdouts. In a notice for a public hearing issued in August 2006, Forest City Ratner listed 70 properties that would need to be taken through eminent domain. The majority of the properties are located on Atlantic Avenue, Flatbush Avenue, Pacific Street and Dean Street. Some property owners have filed lawsuits to keep their property from seizer by the government.

Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, a local community group, assembled Monday at City Hall to ask the PACB to postpone the vote on the General Project Plan. The group claims the plan is not ready for approval. Its two major concerns are: the validity and accuracy of the Environmental Impact Statement and full disclosure on the public financing and personal profit for the developer.

In the middle of November, the final Environmental Impact Statement was released and Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn issued a statement calling it ‘fatally flawed’. “As we dig into the FEIS we expect to find that it fails to accurately consider the very real adverse impacts caused by the project and that the proposed mitigations are insufficient.”

It is uncertain whether the PACB will be able to reach the unanimous consensus it needs for the project to go forward. The three-person board of Pataki, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno could not agree in October on the Moynihan Station project, as reported by GlobeSt.com. Silver voted against the project. It remains to be seen how Silver will vote in regards to this project. But groups like Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn are asking the PACB vote be put off until Gov.-elect Eliot Spitzer takes office.

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