The Appellate Division, Second Department in Matter of Staten Is. Bluebelt Phase 2 v City of New York, 2013 NY Slip Op 5532, recently affirmed a trial court order (Saitta, J), which granted a motion to exchange amended appraisal reports because the appraisal reports that were filed “appeared to be deficient.” The appellate court cited Yaphank Dev. Co. v County of Suffolk, 203 AD2d 280, 282 and explained that the court has a constitutional mandate to give just and fair compensation for any property taken. It explained that the order was proper because a trial based on inadequate appraisals would be a waste of the parties’ time and judicial resources. Clearly, the court could not satisfy its constitutional obligation in the absence of at least one suitable appraisal report.
Matter of Staten Is. Bluebelt Phase 2 v City of New York and Yaphank Dev. Co. v County of Suffolk, supra, makes it clear that the court has the burden to determine the proper amount of just compensation in New York State. There is no burden of proof because it is presumed that a property owner is entitled compensation. See Kimball Laundry Co. v United States 338 US 1, 20 (1949) (Frankfurter, J) (“Since land and buildings are assumed to have some transferable value, when a claimant for just compensation for their taking proves that he was their owner, that proof is ipso facto proof that he is entitled to some compensation”). With that said, there may be limited instances where the condemnee has the burden of proof with respect to specific issues within a proceeding to determine just compensation. See Bero v State, 33 AD2d 88 (3d Dept 1969) (The burden of proof is upon the claimants to show that the taking of part of their property caused damage to the remainder); Maloney v State, 48 AD2d 755, 756 (3d Dept 1975) (The burden of proof of the reasonable probability of a change in zoning is on the landowner); Rochester Urban Renewal Agency v Willsea Works, 48 NY2d 649, 696 (1979) (a condemnee who alleges that a property is a specialty and not susceptible of valuation by fair market standards must bear the burden of demonstrating that the valuation of his or her property cannot reasonably be measured by the fair market value approach).
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