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:

A property restricted by wetlands regulations is valued as restricted unless the claimant can demonstrate that there is a reasonable probability that the wetlands regulations would be held to be a regulatory taking.  If so, the claimant is entitled to an increment above the regulated value, representing an additional amount a reasonable buyer would pay for the probability of a successful judicial determination that the regulations were confiscatory.  Chase Manhattan Bank v State of New York, 103 AD2d 211, 479 NYS2d 983 (2d Dept 1984); Berwick v State of New York, (Berwick I), 107 AD2d 70, 486 NYS2d 260 (2d Dept 1985); Matter of City of New York, Staten Island Bluebelt Phase 2 (Fink), Index 4012/04 (Su. Ct. Kings 2007).

It is the claimant’s burden to establish that there is a reasonable probability that the regulations would be found to constitute a taking.  de St. Aubin v Flacke, 68 NY2d 66 (1986); Adrian v Town of Yorktown, 83 AD3d 746, 920 NYS2d 411 (2d Dept 2011).

Here there was no question that there was an inverse taking which caused the deprivation of all economically beneficial use of the land.  The court held that there was a reasonable probability that regulations could be successfully challenged as a regulatory taking.  In wetlands condemnation cases, the land is valued at its regulated an increment value based on the probability of a successful regulatory challenge.

The Court held that the increment must be determined by the realities of the market.

Here the City valued the land at $147,000, reducing the value of the land for alleged overstated legal fees.

The Court would not accept the City’s valuation.  It found a regulated value of $200,000 and then added $469,380 as present value of the increment for a total award of $669,000.

No law firm has tried as many wetland condemnation cases.

Goldstein, Rikon, Rikon & Levi, P.C. is a law firm that limits its practice to eminent domain and condemnation law.  Eminent domain refers to the sovereign’s power to take private property for a public use, provided that just compensation is paid.  The firm offers its clients the opportunity to retain counsel highly experienced in obtaining “just compensation.

Goldstein, Rikon, Rikon & Levi, P.C. is the New York Representative for Owners’ Counsel of America.  Owners’ Counsel of America is a selective organization, having one representative in each state, that brings together the most experienced eminent domain trial lawyers in the country to create a network of professionals dedicated to assisting property owners through their shared resources and experiences.

Posted in Increment, Valuation, Wetlands

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