A State Supreme Court judge reopened a lawsuit Tuesday that could throw a wrench into the $3 billion redevelopment blueprint for Willets Point after the city broke down its original plans into three separate phases.
State Supreme Court Judge Joan Madden originally ruled against a group of property owners who sued the city to stop the project, but she said in her Tuesday ruling that she would reopen the case after the city Economic Development Corp. made changes to its plans for the 62-acre, mixed-use development, which would replace the auto body shops and industrial businesses that currently populate the Iron Triangle.
According to the ruling, the city broke up the proposal into three phases without conducting a separate environmental study and also claimed that it did not need additional ramps on the Van Wyck Expressway to accommodate increased traffic.
In addition, the city earlier claimed that it would not proceed with condemning property in the triangle until the ramps were approved but did so anyway, the ruling said.
“As the city has now changed its position and is seeking to exercise its powers of eminent domain without approval of the ramps, in direct contradiction of its prior representations, and based on the significance of the ramps to the plan, I conclude that the integrity of the decision-making process has been impacted and sufficient reasons exist for me to consider vacating my prior judgment,” Madden said in her statement.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, a property owners group called Willets Point United, also have an ongoing lawsuit challenging the city’s use of eminent domain for the project.
Madden said in her ruling that some of the issues she wants to examine before she considers throwing out her prior judgment might be addressed in the other lawsuit, which she will wait to be resolved first.
A conference is scheduled between the city and Willets Point United in late January.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.
©2011 Community Newspaper Group
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