Opponents of the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn yesterday filed a lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan to try to stop the mega-development from going forward.

The group Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn and 19 other groups alleged in the suit that changes to the original plan required that the Empire State Development Corp. undertake a new supplementary environmental impact statement for the $4.9 billion project.

“We will vigorously defend the lawsuit and we expect to prevail on the merits,” the ESDC said in a statement.

The issuer approved a modified general plan last month for the project for which developer Forest City Ratner Cos. wants to sell $700 million of tax-exempt bonds backed by payments in lieu of taxes to build a basketball arena as a key element of a larger development. The ESDC has to sell the bonds before the end of the year. 

Although the modified plan stated that the project’s expected completion date would be in 10 years, the lease agreement between the agency and the developer sets a 25-year limit for the development of much of the non-arena property, according to ESDC documents. In June, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority approved a new deal with Forest City Ratner that allows the developer to purchase development rights over a key parcel of land in installments over the next 21 years.

The plaintiffs seized on these events to claim that the possibility of a longer time table is contradictory to the stated purpose of the project, which was to alleviate blight, and would cause the site to remain blighted for years to come.

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