Some of the most hard-fought real estate litigation in New York can arise when the city or a government agency seeks to take private land for public use. The government’s power of eminent domain, also known as condemnation, is broad. The rights of private landowners are protected to some extent by the U.S. and New York State Constitutions, which provide that the government must pay the landowner fair compensation if it takes private property.
New York law also provides procedural protections for affected property owners. Before proceeding with a condemnation, the government entity is required to hold a public hearing on the proposed project. The government must publish its determination that the land is needed for a public purpose, along with findings of fact supporting its determination, in a local newspaper. The determination and findings must also be served on all affected property owners.
Property owners have a legal right to challenge whether the public purpose is legitimate. Owners of affected property have 30 days from the date the government publishes its determination and findings to file an appeal of the determination. This appeal is heard in the appellate division of the New York Supreme Court sitting in the county where the property is located.
Landowners also have the right to challenge the fairness of the compensation offered by the government by filing a claim in the New York Court of Claims. At the trial, both sides can present expert testimony by appraisers as to the value of the property. As in any complex real estate dispute, landowners can improve their chances of success if they are represented by an experienced real estate litigation attorney.
Source: New York Office of the Attorney General, “FAQs About the NYS Eminent Domain Procedure Law,” accessed on March 1, 2015