Thursday, October 8, 2009

New York: Worst state in the nation for eminent domain abuse

From Gotham Gazette:

“New York is perhaps the worst state in the nation when it comes to eminent domain abuse — the forcible acquisition of private property by the government for private development,” according to a new report by the conservative Institute for Justice.

The study goes through a litany of examples of what they see as an unfair eminent domain process here. They point out that an area need only be considered in danger of becoming blighted in order to be condemned; describe a byzantine, opaque, and unaccountable hearing process; and focus on the short window of time for property owners to protest at inadequate proceedings.

Nicole Gelinas, at NY Fiscal Watch, adds that the threat of eminent domain can freeze business activity and actually create blight.

Although the report paints a bleak landscape of abuse in the state, it really doesn’t compare New York to other states. Another report by an arm of the Institute for Justice gave New York an ‘F’ – one of eight states to receive the grade – for failing to pass legislation reforming eminent domain.

Hopefully New York can get off that list, writes Damon Root at Reason Magazine. Next week the Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments against the use of eminent domain for the Atlantic Yards project. Root says this case is an opportunity for the state “to start reining in these abuses.”