The lawyer for the 11 plaintiffs – who stand to lose their properties because of the project – argued their case before a three-judge panel. The plaintiffs say the project doesn't serve a public purpose, which is a requirement for seizing property under eminent domain.
They also claim the project was rubber-stamped by state officials who have a long-time relationship with the developer, Bruce Ratner.
The Empire State Development Corporation, which oversees the site, argued the $4 billion housing development and arena for the Nets serves multiple public purposes, including improving transportation and getting rid of blight in the area.
"The question is: what motivated the government officials who ultimately rubber-stamped this decision? Were they motivated by a desire to benefit the public? Is that what really is driving it,” said the plaintiffs attorney Matthew Brinckerhoff. “Or was it because somebody that they know and they have business relations with came to them with a good idea and they thought, ‘Why not? Let's do it, and we don't care whether or not it's really beneficial to the community.’"
The ESDC says it will not comment on the case until the court reaches a decision, which could take weeks. The plaintiffs say if they lose this appeal, they'll take their fight to the U.S. Supreme Court.
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