ANOTHER POORLY CONSIDERED CONDEMNATION

On October 2, 2017, the Honorable Bruce E. Tolbert, sitting as a Rockland County Supreme Court Justice, entered a decision and order awarding our clients, The Ray River Co., Inc. and Haverstraw Riverfront, Inc., $8,950,000 plus interest from March 27, 2008.  That is a 56% increment.  Jonathan M. Houghton tried the claim, assisted by Ashley Levi. The Condemnor, Village of Haverstraw, made an advance payment of $1,190,000.  At trial, it introduced an appraisal valuing the 9.7 acres of vacant land on the Hudson River at $2.1 million. The property never… read more

Posted in Condemnation, Wrongful Condemnation
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SHOULD YOU MOVE FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT OR IN LIMINE?

Many lawyers believe that their opponents’ appraisal is so weak that a motion for summary judgment will bring them instant victory.  The idea is usually not worth the effort for it is rare that summary judgment is appropriate in an eminent domain case. An appraisal presents a pure factual presentation of data and information utilized by an expert to conclude to an opinion of value.  In New York State, an appraisal is required to be exchanged and filed pursuant to Court Rule.  22 NYCRR § 202.61.  See Miriam Osborn Memorial… read more

Posted in Appraisal, Due Process, In Limine, Just Compensation, Summary Judgment
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WIND-POWER LINE BLOWN AWAY BY ILLINOIS SUPREME COURT

The Illinois Supreme Court rendered a decision on September 21, 2017 which upheld a lower court decision that an application filed by Clean Line Energy, a Houston Company, may not use eminent domain to acquire land to develop a 500 mile transmission line designed to carry wind generated power through the State of Illinois.  Illinois Landowners Alliance NRF v Illinois Commerce Commission, 2017 IL 121302. The basis for the decision was that Clean Line Energy does not qualify as a “public utility.”  The $1.8 billion high voltage line has been… read more

Posted in Pipeline Takings, Public Purpose, Public Utility
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THE MARKET DATA APPROACH, HOW COMPARABLE DO COMPARABLE SALES HAVE TO BE?

We recently filed a brief in an unusual case dealing with the valuation of a 10 acre parcel of land on the Long Island Sound in Eastern Long Island.  The valuation is premised on a filed subdivision map.  Certainly, this is a rare parcel of land to value.  Both appraisers used the market data approach to value the land.  Utilizing comparable sales is the most common approach to value vacant land.  If the property is income producing, the law in New York requires the income approach, or the capitalization of… read more

Posted in Comparable Sales, Market Data Approach, Valuation
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STORM WATER RELEASES DURING HARVEY WERE ALLEGEDLY UNLAWFUL TAKINGS

Reuters announced that owners of homes flooded during Hurricane Harvey are claiming billions in damages because of Federal and State water releases from storm-swollen reservoirs.  Several lawsuits have been filed in Federal and State Court in Texas and claim properties were taken for public use without compensation.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and a Texas State agency have been named as the defendants responsible for the water releases.  Damages are estimated to be as high as $3 billion.  There may be more than 1,000 homes valued at between $750,000… read more

Posted in Harvey Storm Water Releases, Inverse Condemnation, Temporary Flooding
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BRIGHAM-KANNER PROPERTY RIGHTS CONFERENCE

           This year’s Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Conference will be held from October 12, 2017 to October 13, 2017. The annual Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Conference is presented by the William and Mary Property Rights Project and is named in recognition of Toby Prince Brigham and Gideon Kanner for their lifetime contributions to private property rights.  The conference is designed to bring together members of the bench, bar and academia to explore recent developments in the laws that affect property rights.  The Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Conference began in… read more

Posted in Eminent Domain Conference, Land Use, Property Rights Conference
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WHEN A JUDGE DOESN’T GET IT

New York is one of three states in the union that does not provide for jury trials in condemnation matters.  Not only that, but there is a designated justice who is assigned to hear condemnation cases in every county.  Many of our out of state colleagues who practice eminent domain law find that having the same judge is almost as incredible as not having a jury. Most of the time, the judges assigned to the condemnation part are interested in the subject and become experts in the law.  Some courts… read more

Posted in Appraisal, Appraisal Rule, Date of Valuation, Summary Judgment
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The Supreme Court rejects a property owner’s regulatory taking claim

The Supreme Court of the United Sates rejected a property owner’s regulatory taking claim in Murr v Wisconsin, 582 U.S. ____ [2017]. The claim alleged that a Wisconsin law deprived the owner of all or practically all of the use of one of two adjacent lots because the lot could not be sold or developed separately under the Wisconsin law. The Court applied a multi-part test to identify the relevant parcel for the regulatory taking inquiry. It concluded that the two lots should be evaluated as a single parcel, and… read more

Posted in Inverse Condemnation, Recent cases
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BROOKLYN CENTER TRIAL DECISION

Goldstein, Rikon, Rikon & Houghton, P.C. obtained three favorable decisions from the Honorable Wayne P. Saitta after a trial handled by Jon Houghton and Ashley Levi. The three properties were located in the Willoughby Square area of downtown Brooklyn.  The plan was to upzone the land to encourage the development of office buildings in downtown Brooklyn.  As the Court noted, the majority of the development that took place since the 2004 rezonings was hotel and residential development rather than office buildings.  Although the zoning change took place some five years… read more

Posted in Brooklyn Development Properties, F.A.R., Fair Market Value
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WHAT LAW SHOULD APPLY IN A CONDEMNATION BY A PRIVATE ENTITY EXERCISING FEDERAL EMINENT DOMAIN AUTHORITY – FEDERAL OR STATE?

An interesting decision was won by our Florida Owner’s Counsel of America colleague, Andrew Prince Brigham.  The case, Sabal Trail Transmission, LLC v Real Estate, et. al., was decided by Honorable Mark E. Walker in the Northern District of Florida, United States District Court on June 5, 2017, Case No. 1:16-CV-063 MW-GRJ. Sabal Transmission proposes to construct a 516.2 mile pipeline in Alabama, Georgia and Florida.  After initiating an eminent domain condemnation action against multiple private owners, it filed a motion for partial summary judgment asserting that the Fifth Amendment… read more

Posted in Choice of Law, Property Rights, Transmission Lines
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