Monday, July 9, 2012

Will Illegality Kill New Willets Point Deal?

Crain's is reporting on the impact of the AG's finding concerning the illegal lobbying of EDC and its Claire Shulman puppet:

"Opponents of the city's plan to redevelop Willets Point will try to take advantage of the Economic Development Corp.'s admission last week that it illegally lobbied for the project. A spokesman for a group of property owners resisting eviction said EDC's acknowledgement means the city should rescind its 2008 plan to remake Willets, which was approved by the City Council. A lawsuit is possible, the spokesman said."

Not everyone agrees that this is a deal killer: "But experts say it's unlikely that EDC's confession, made in a settlement with state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, would be grounds for overturning the Willets decision."I don't see a court invalidating the approvals because of what may have been misconduct in the advocacy," said Kenneth Fisher, a land-use attorney and former Brooklyn councilman. "I can't think of any precedent for that."

We would agree that there was no precedent-not precedent for the city breaking the law, that is, in the pursuit of a development deal. Has former council member Fisher ever seen that? But certainly this will be another reason why the city council will examine the new configuration carefully:

"If the legal argument fails, opponents could still play the political card. The admission of illegal lobbying could bolster their argument that the project is tainted and should be killed. Because the redevelopment planned by the Related Cos. and Sterling Equities deviates from what was approved four years ago, the City Council will need to sanction a zoning change for the new version."

That and the fact that Sterling played a key role in the illegal activity-and Related is still Wal-Mart's best friend. Stay tuned to this.