Condemnation Award of $669,00 Made for Staten Island Wetlands

The Appellate Division, Second Department affirmed an award of $669,00 made by Justice Wayne P. Saitta.  Matter of City of New York, New Creek Bluebelt (Galarza). This condemnation case involved the taking of a vacant 21,000 square foot lot in Staten Island which was designated 100% wetlands. The former property owner Ivan Galarza retained Goldstein, Rikon, Rikon & Levi, P.C.  The Manhattan law firm was founded in 1923 and limits its practice to eminent domain – condemnation matters. Wetland cases present difficult legal and valuation issues. As Justice Saitta wrote:… read more

Posted in Increment, Valuation, Wetlands
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Did You Hear About the One Where a Group of Squatters Were Given Title to the Buildings They Occupied?

I read a story in a newspaper published by Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C., a well known and very successful real estate attorney.  Adam related the story of a group of building squatters that had broken into abandoned buildings on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and made them livable enough for small groups.  Mr. Bailey banned the word “Squatter” after beginning to work with them, “as they had a right to be living there – brought certain skills to bear.”  But there is no explanation of how these squatters “had… read more

Posted in Squatters, Title to Occupied Property
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Paying Big Bucks in Colorado – No Sheep

The Town of Vail wants to protect its bighorn sheep.  It seems two were recently struck by vehicles. Meanwhile, the toney Vail resort wants to build workforce housing on land that it owns in East Vail, but the Town is not in favor. What to do?  Well, condemn the 23 acres to prevent any development.  This is not the first ski resort condemnation.  Telluride stopped development.  Telluride condemned 572 acres to block development of proposed luxury homes.  The Town offered the developer $26 million.  The developer wanted $51 million.  A… read more

Posted in Bighorn Sheep, Highest and Best Use, Vail
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Chaining Yourself to a Tree Just Won’t Work: Relocating Condemnees.

The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority’s announcement to construct two new toll roads as part of a $5 billion expansion of the turnpike system brought pledges of refusing to cooperate if the Authority is awarded the land.  Residents are considering chaining themselves to tress, bulldozers or simply refusing to leave. According to an article published in “The Noman Transcript,” Oklahoma: Before an eviction order, if a landowner does not cooperate with the court’s ruling, the OTA could seek an injunction to order the person from “interfering with their (OTA’s) property rights,” Gray… read more

Posted in Eminent Domain, Eviction, Writ of Assistance
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Independent Appraiser Does Not Mean Biased Assessor

Matthew Clifford, Esq., an outstanding condemnation and tax cert lawyer, was enough to send a recent Putnam County Supreme Court decision, LAK 3, LLC v Board of Assessors, et ano of Town of Carmel, Index No. 501685/2019 Filed 02/14/2022. The case involved a tax reduction petition to reduce the assessment on 41 Averill Drive, a single-family residence near Lake Mahopac.  In 2017, the property had an assessed value of $1,011,000.  In 2018, the assessment was increased to $2,816,500.  In 2019, that assessed value was increased to $2,934,000.  The Petitioner retained… read more

Posted in Court Rules, Credibility, Independent Appraiser, Tax Assessment
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The Inconsistent Rulings of The Second Department: You Can Drive on the Beach – No You Can’t!

The Second Department handed down a decision dealing with driving on the beach in Southampton, Thomas v Trustees of the Freeholders and Commonalty of Southampton, ____ AD3d ____ (February 9, 2022). The Southampton Village Code prohibited the driving on ocean beaches between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm during summer months.  However, the Village Code provides an exception to this general prohibition for a portion of the beach that includes the Thomas’s property, among others.  Plaintiffs alleged several causes of action including a per se unconstitutional taking. One fact stated by… read more

Posted in Access to Beach, Per Se Taking, Title to Beach
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The Appraisal Rule in an Eminent Domain Trial

New York is one of the three states in the union that does not allow a jury trial. When private property is taken for public use, the condemnor must “compensate the owner so that he (or she) may be put in the same relative position, insofar as this is possible, as if the taking had not occurred.”[1]  The award “must reflect the fair market value of the property in its highest and best use on the date of the taking, regardless of whether the property is being put to such… read more

Posted in Appraisal Rule, Condemnation Trial, Expert Testimony
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New Challenge to Takings for Natural Gas Pipelines

An article published by the E&E News written by Niina H. Farah on December 16, 2021 reported an argument before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.  The lawsuit was brought by homeowners located along the route of the Mountain Valley Pipeline alleging that it is unconstitutional for the Federal Energy Regulation Commission (FERC) to delegate it eminent domain authority to pipeline developers. The legislation at issue in the case is the Natural Gas Act, which extends the federal government’s authority to condemn private land for public… read more

Posted in FERC, PennEast Pipeline, Pipelines
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East River Park Destruction: Not So Fast, The Public Trust Doctrine Controls

On December 7, 2021, I wrote a blog about the legal suit brought to stop the destruction of the East River Park in the Lower Eastside of Manhattan.  I discussed the decision of the Appellate Division, First Department in Matter of East River Park Action v City of New York (Index No. 151491/20) denying an application to annul a vote of the City Council which modified the zoning resolution in order to facilitate the construction of the development of the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project. The project adopted by the… read more

Posted in East River Park, Parkland, Public Trust Doctrine
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East River Park – A Park Not Protected by the Public Trust Doctrine

Some two years ago, on May 9, 2019, I wrote about the Public Trust Doctrine in this blog.  I reported the Court of Appeals’ decision in Matter of Glick v Harvey, 25 NY3d 1175 (2015) where the Court affirmed decisions of lower courts enjoining New York University from beginning any construction with its expansion project that would result in any alienation of three parcels of land found by the Court to be public parkland, unless and until the State Legislature authorizes the alienation of any parkland to be impacted by… read more

Posted in parklands, Public Trust
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