SANDBAGGING, A PRACTICE THAT MUST STOP

My column for the August 28, 2018 issue of the New York Law Journal, “The New York State Legislature Should Revise the EDPL” contains many suggestions for revisions of the law.  One suggested change addresses the practice employed by condemning authorities commonly known as “sandbagging.” Eminent Domain Procedure Law § 304 addresses the concept of advance payment.  As the statute states, the condemnee may elect to accept such offer as an advance payment and such election shall in no way prejudice the right of a condemnee to claim additional compensation. … read more

Posted in Advance Payments, Appraisal, Sandbagging
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STANDING TO FILE A TAX CERTIORARI PETITION – AN EVERCHANGING DEFINITION

On May 10, 2018, we blogged about a tax certiorari decision handed down by the Appellate Division, Second Department, Matter of Larchmont Pancake House v Board of Assessors, 153 AD2d 521 (Aug. 2, 2017).  The decision caused great concern to the bar because it held that while a tenant who is responsible for the payment of real estate taxes is an aggrieved party within the meaning of the RPTL because the assessments had a direct adverse affect on its pecuniary interests.  The tenant may not proceed because RPLT articles require… read more

Posted in Aggrieved Person, Standing, Tax Certiorari
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MAN WANTS HIS PROPERTY BACK – TOO LATE!

A news story run by CBS News on August 6, 2018 reports that a former owner of land in the Bronx is fighting to get the land back from the City of New York.  The property, a 13,000 square foot parcel on Boston Road, was taken in 1967 apparently for a street widening. He has commenced a lawsuit because nothing was done with the property.  His attorney is hopeful that the City will work something out.  I am less sanguine of the results.  Under New York State Eminent Domain Procedure… read more

Posted in Abandonment, EDPL Sec. 406, Partial Takings, Right of First Refusal
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THE REBUTTABLE PRESUMPTION OF VALIDITY OF VALUATION MEANS THAT TAX VALUATION CAN BE CHALLENGED

Tax Certiorari cases are difficult enough but, should not be impossible.  The Fourth Department recently decided a case, Buscaglia v Assessor, Town of Hamburg, 2018 N.Y. App. Div. Lexis 4854 [4th Dept 2018], where it reversed an Order of Supreme Court, Erie County, which dismissed petitions to reduce assessed taxes. The property involved a waterfront parcel on Lake Erie.  The parties stipulated to the admission in evidence of their respective appraisal reports.  The Court agreed with the assessor that petitioner failed to overcome the legal presumption that respondents’ assessment was… read more

Posted in Appraisal Evidence, Rebuttable Presumption, Substantial Evidence
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A CONDEMNOR CAN KEEP TRYING TO CONDEMN – UNTIL IT GETS IT RIGHT

The Third Department handed down a decision on June 21, 2018 in Johnson v Town of Caroga, ___ AD3d ____ (3d Dept 2018).  This was a challenge pursuant to EDPL 207 to a “Determination and Findings” adopted by the Town to acquire a roughly 15-foot-wide strip of land for the purposes of providing expanded access to a recreational trail.  There was an earlier and successful challenge.  Matter of Johnson v Town of Caroga, 157 AD3d 1025 (2018).  The Town issued resolutions recommencing the eminent domain process and this time got… read more

Posted in Challenges to Determination and Findings, EDPL 207
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CONDEMNATION’S MIGHTY HAND

It surprises some that eminent domain in New York can be utilized to acquire property interests other than real estate fee title and trade fixtures.  Section 103(F) of the Eminent Domain Procedure Law (EDPL) defines real property as including “all land and improvements, …all easements and hereditaments, corporeal or incorporeal, and every estate, interest and right, legal or equitable, in lands or water, and right, interest, privilege, easement and franchise relating to the same, including terms for years and liens by way of mortgage or otherwise.” Section 708 of the… read more

Posted in EDPL Section 708, Personal Property, Right of First Refusal
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CAREFUL JUDGE – THAT CONDEMNATION IS CONSTITUTIONALLY PROTECTED

We have written on this subject before, but somehow some judges do not get it.  A condemnation proceeding is not like private litigation.  A condemnation claim is the enforcement of a constitutional mandate that just compensation be paid. Even if the claimant fails in the burden of proof, it is not that he will be non-suited and receive no compensation.  Rather, in this worst-case scenario, the claimant will simply receive the amount proven by the condemnor.  In New York, the burden of proof is on the court to assure that… read more

Posted in Burden of Proof, Offer & Compensation, Trial Preparation
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THINK TWICE BEFORE AGREEING TO ALLOW STREET ARTISTS TO PAINT ON YOUR BUILDING

The United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York refused to set aside the Court’s findings of fact and conclusions of law and grant a new trial to Cohen et al. v G & M Realty L.P. et anos, Case No. 13-CV-05612 (FB) (RLM).  In an unusual decision, Senior District Judge Frederic Block awarded $6,750,000 as statutory damages for the willful destruction of Plaintiffs’ works of visual art by Defendant Gerald Wolkoff.  The art was graffiti on a group of dilapidated buildings in Long Island City, Queens. … read more

Posted in Graffiti, Protected Art, Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990
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TAXES ON PARKLAND – NEVER

The Second Department handed down an interesting case today, Town of North Hempstead v County of Nassau, ___ AD3d ___, June 6, 2018.  The facts are somewhat difficult, but I shall try to simplify.  In 2005, land was conveyed to the Town of North Hempstead for use as a public park.  The real property was used as a park since that date. The Town failed to record the 2005 deed until December 2008.  Meanwhile the County was assessing taxes on the land and sold the tax liens to an individual. … read more

Posted in parklands, RPTL 406, Tax Assessment
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ANOTHER UNCONSTITUTIONAL TAKING CLAIM DISMISSED

In our May 11, 2018 blog, we wrote about the Second Department’s affirmance of the dismissal of a claim by Yellow Cab Medallion owners that their property was taken when the City of New York permitted Uber and other for hire vehicles to provide on demand ground transportation. The Court held, inter alia: Moreover, we agree with the Supreme Court’s determination that the TLC’s alleged decision to “allow black cars to pick up e-hails” did not, as a matter of law, constitute an unconstitutional taking of the petitioners’ property (see… read more

Posted in Inverse Condemnation
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