Property owners take arena fight to Supreme Court

BROOKLYN - Residents and business owners are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear their appeal over the use of eminent domain in the Atlantic Yards project.

Eleven property owners in the footprint of the massive project filed their petition Monday. They argue developer Bruce Ratner's use of eminent domain violates the constitution because the project would benefit him, not the public. Eminent domain is used to seize private property for public good. The group lost an appeal in February.

The multi-billion dollar project includes an 18,000-seat Nets arena, retail space and housing units in the heart of downtown Brooklyn. The site is currently occupied by a rail yard, industrial buildings and some homes.

If the case drags on through 2010, construction would be delayed, forcing the developer to restart the eminent domain process. Ratner has already seized several properties.The project is scheduled to be done by December 2009.

Develop Don't Destroy, a nonprofit community-run group in Brooklyn, says some 334 people originally lived in homes and apartment buildings on the site; about 35 remain. The number of active businesses on the site has dropped from 33 to seven.A Forest City Ratner spokesperson would not comment on the appeal.

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