A State Appellate Court gave Bruce Ratner's embattled Brooklyn development plans a big boost yesterday, ruling that an environmental impact review conducted by the Empire State Development Corporation [ESDC] was properly completed. Opponents of the multi-billion dollar project, which in its first phase would build a basketball stadium and two residential towers, argue that Ratner exerted "inappropriate influence" over the ESDC and disagree with the assessment that property seized for the development was blighted. The Brooklyn Paper notes that real-estate values were in fact rising in the area when the project was unveiled, and yesterday one of the judges wrote a separate opinion disagreeing with the blight finding, opining that the ESDC was "ultimately being used as a tool of the developer to displace and destroy neighborhoods that are 'underutilized.' "Opponents will ask the Court of Appeals to review the ruling. And on Monday oral arguments were heard in a second lawsuit challenging the state’s use of eminent domain; that ruling is expected this spring.