THE EASEMENT THAT’S REALLY A DIRECT TAKING

The right of an owner to just compensation for property taken by eminent domain is one guaranteed by the federal and state constitutions.  (Federal Constitution, Fourteenth Amendment; NY Constitution, Art. 1, Subd. 7).  The constitutional requirement of “just compensation” mandates that the property owner be indemnified so that he may be put in the same relative position, insofar as this is possible, as if the taking had not occurred.  City of Buffalo v J.W. Clement Co., Inc., 28 NY2d 241 258 (1971); Rose v State of New York, 24 NY2d… read more

Posted in Just Compensation, Permanent Easement
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A TRIPLE AAA DECISION – MATTER OF VILLAGE OF HAVERSTRAW v AAA ELECTRICIANS, INC.

On October 17, 2018, the Appellate Division, Second Department handed down a decision affirming the award of $1,190,582.91 for an additional allowance for legal and expert fees.  The additional allowance was awarded by the Honorable Bruce E. Tolbert. The additional allowance was authorized by Section 701 of the Eminent Domain Procedure Law. In August 1987, the Eminent Domain Procedure Law (EDPL), §701, was amended to provide that when an award in a condemnation proceeding was “substantially” in excess of the condemnor’s proof on the trial, the trial court, in its… read more

Posted in EDPL Sec. 701, Legal Fees
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HOW DO WE GET TO THE BEACH? PART II. MARTINS BEACH v SURFRIDER FOUNDATION

I first wrote about this subject in our blog dated May 21, 2018.  The United States Supreme Court denied certiorari on October 1, 2018 to Martins Beach 1, LLC v Surfrider Foundation, _____ U.S. _____, 2018 U.S. LEXIS 5704.  The Court refused to hear an appeal by an owner to overturn a ruling that a beach access path must stay open. The access to the beach was located near Half Moon Bay, California.  The property never had public access.  The beach could only be accessed by driving down a private… read more

Posted in Beach Access, Per Se Taking, Public Trust Doctrine
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ADVERSE POSSESSION OF CONDEMNED LAND

Among the many interesting calls that I receive, this one is a doozy.  Many years ago, the City condemned property for urban renewal.  But never moved forward after acquiring title.  It did nothing and the land remained vacant.  Then after a passage of over 15 years, someone conveyed title to the parcel.  This sale was from an owner to another private party. The grantee, however, did not pay the City’s real estate taxes.  So, after a period of years, the City foreclosed on its tax lien taking title once again… read more

Posted in Adverse Possession, Title
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JUST IN THE KNICK OF TIME – KNICK V. TOWNSHIP OF SCOTT

It is very rare, yet it’s going to happen.  The United States Supreme Court will hear an eminent domain case.  The case brought by our friends at Pacific Legal Foundation involves a somewhat bizarre fact pattern.  Okay, it is totally weird.  The Township of Scott, Pennsylvania passed an ordinance affecting private properties determined to be or contain cemeteries. In relevant part, the ordinance required that “all cemeteries within the Township . . . be kept open and accessible to the general public during daylight hours” and that no owner could… read more

Posted in Fifth Amendment, Knick v Township, Ripeness of Claims, Williamson County
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WE DON’T WANT TO PAY NO STINKING INTEREST – THE STATE OF NEW YORK’S CONTINUED BAD FAITH IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE LAW

Jonathan Houghton recently won two appeals in the Second Department. Matter of Sagres 9, LLC v State of New York, 2018 NY Slip Op. 05932 and 05933 (2d Dept. August 29, 2018). The appeals concerned the failure of the State to pay statutory interest at 9%.  In the two different appropriations, the State deposited advance payments with no notice or explanation to Claimant.  There was absolutely no reason for the deposits.  In fact, the improper deposit with the Comptroller into its eminent domain accounts, pursuant to State Finance Law Sec…. read more

Posted in Advance Payments, interest, Just Compensation, State Finance Law Sec. 97-dd
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TIME TO PROVIDE FOR A JURY TRIAL FOR CONDEMNATION CLAIMS

New York’s Eminent Domain Procedure Law (EDPL) provides that the Supreme Court shall have exclusive jurisdiction to determine all claims from the acquisition of real property and hear such claims without a jury or without referral to a referee or commissioners.  EDPL § 501(B).  If the property is acquired by the State, the claim will be litigated in the Court of Claims.  EDPL § 501(A).  All claims in the Court of Claims are tried by a Court of Claims Judge without a jury.  In United States v 243.22 Acres of… read more

Posted in Jury Trial, Just Compensation
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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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