Sunday, May 07, 2006

Lawmakers, Lawyers Split On Eminent Domain Reform

Date: Sun, 07 May 2006 03:51:48 -0400
From: "Tenant"
Subject: Time to focus on the actual ED bills

NB - This from upstate. With so many bills, it's
difficult to tell where they are and if any have
a chance in hell being passed by both houses and
signed by the governor ... either Pataki or Spitzer.
The dangers in some of the bills are:
- allowing ED for economic purposes in "blighted areas"
- committees to study it forever. Study is delay.
- allowing ED for economic purposes when the local

legislature votes on it.
Bloomberg has Jay Kriegel running a PR campaign
that falsely claims ED will stop construction of
affordable housing. It's really luxury housing
they're speaking about. Public Housing would not
be prohibited. When they use ED for "economic
purposes, that usually means turning it over to

another private party.
Some of the bills (like Brodsky's) are pandering
to create the impression they are dealing with
the backlash to Kelo. But when has NYC Council
not rubber-stamped such a request? Remember, if
it had gone to the Council, the WS stadium most
likely would have passed. That was the "we did
all we could" plan of Giff Miller.
There are a lot of activists out there opposed to
Eminent Domain abuse ... Brooklyn, Manhattan and
in the Bronx. But is there any focus on the bills and

active lobbying going on? -

Lawmakers, Lawyers Split On Eminent Domain Reform

ALBANY---With opposition from the New York State
Bar Association and legal counsel for New York
City, the state Senate Judiciary Committee led by
chairman John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse) has passed
four bills by three different legislators seeking
to protect private property from government
taking for private economic development purposes.

After the U.S. Supreme Court made its landmark
and highly controversial ruling last year in Kelo
v. City of New London, numerous bills were
introduced in the legislature involving the
eminent domain issue. The Kelo decision
reaffirmed the power of local governments to
seize private property for economic development
purposes. The Court also approved the
longstanding role of state Legislatures to
restrict or expand this grant of authority.

NYSBA president Vincent A. Buzard and NYC
Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo claim that
Kelo has had minimal impact in the state and say
that and modifications to eminent domain law
would undermine the public interest.

Buzard and the NYSBA have called for a study
commission to be formed but DeFranciso says that
the last time the Legislature appointed such a
body to address the eminent domain issue, it took
seven years before any legislation was proposed
and that such delay wasn't "responsive government".

Two of the bills passed by the Senate committee
were sponsored by DeFranciso. Bill S5938
"clarifies that the exercise of eminent domain
powers should be reserved for those public
infrastructures and services commonly provided by
government" such as "transportation, public
safety, recreation, water supply and sanitation facilities".

DeFrancisco also sponsored S5961 concurrently
with the state Assembly which would amend the
state Constitution to bar the taking or transfer
of private property to another private party for
purposes of economic development.

Sen. Carl L. Marcellino, (R-Long Island) has
sponsored S5936 which amends the Eminent Domain
Procedure Law to permit the state to take
property for economic development reasons only in blighted areas.
A bill prohibiting the use of eminent domain to
transfer land from one private owner to another,
S7358, is sponsored by Sen. Michael A.L. Balboni (R-Nassau County).

A legislative package on eminent domain
consisting of five bills was introduced in the
Assembly last October by Assemblyman Richard
Brodsky (D-Greenburgh) which included a
bipartisan two-house bill that creates a
temporary state commission to study the state's
eminent domain laws as suggested by Buzard and the NYSBA.

Currently, NYS allows quasi-public entities to
employ eminent domain, such as public
authorities, industrial development agencies and
local development corporations. These
institutions are shielded from traditional public
scrutiny, which allows them to use eminent domain
without public debate and broad community support.

Both Buzard and Cardozo claim that New York state
law has sufficient protections regarding eminent
domain. Some members of the Judiciary Committee
voted against the bills or "without
recommendation" which means they don't oppose the
bills' advancement but might vote against them if
they reach the floor for a full Senate vote.

Buzard and Cardozo claim they lawmakers are
moving too fast and without a detailed study.

5-06-06 � 2006 North Country Gazette
The Tenant Network(tm) for Residential Tenants
Information from TenantNet is from experienced non-attorney tenant
activists and is not considered legal advice.

Posted as a Public Service, the opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Chair or Board Members

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