Pursuant to NY CLS EDPL § 101, the purposes of the New York eminent domain procedure law are:
- to provide the exclusive procedure by which property is acquired by exercise of the power of eminent domain in New York state;
- to assure that just compensation is paid to those persons whose property rights are acquired by the exercise of the power of eminent domain;
- to establish opportunity for public participation in the planning of public projects necessitating the exercise of eminent domain;
- to give due regard to the need to acquire property for public use as well as the legitimate interests of private property owners, local communities and the quality of the environment, and to that end to promote and facilitate recognition and careful consideration of those interests;
- to encourage settlement of claims for just compensation and expedite payments to property owners;
- to establish rules to reduce litigation; and
- to ensure equal treatment to all property owners.
NY CLS EDPL § 201 provides that prior to acquisition, the condemnor, in order to inform the public and to review the public use to be served by a proposed public project and the impact on the environment and residents of the locality where such project will be constructed, should conduct a public hearing at a location reasonably proximate to the property which may be acquired for such project.
Where a public hearing is required, the condemnor should give notice to the public of the purpose, time, and location of its hearing setting forth the proposed location of the public project including any proposed alternate locations, at least ten but no more than thirty days prior to such public hearing[i].
The notice should be published in at least five successive issues of an official daily newspaper if there is one designated in the locality where the project will be situated and in at least five successive issues of a daily newspaper of general circulation in such locality.
At the public hearing, the condemnor should outline the purpose, proposed location, or alternate locations of the public project and any other information it considers pertinent, including maps and property descriptions of the property to be acquired and adjacent parcels.
Thereafter, any person in attendance is given a reasonable opportunity to present an oral or written statement and to submit other documents concerning the proposed public project[ii].
The condemnor, within ninety days after the conclusion of the public hearings held, should make its determination and findings concerning the proposed public project and should publish a brief synopsis of such determination and findings in at least two successive issues of an official newspaper if there is one designated in the locality where the project will be situated and in at least two successive issues of a newspaper of general circulation in such locality[iii].
NY CLS EDPL § 207 provides that any person or persons jointly or severally, aggrieved by the condemnor’s determination and findings, may seek judicial review thereof by the appellate division of the supreme court, in the judicial department embracing the county wherein the proposed facility is located by the filing of a petition in such court within thirty days after the condemnor’s completion of its publication of its determination and findings.
The condemnor, at all stages prior to or subsequent to an acquisition by eminent domain of real property necessary for a proposed public project should make every reasonable and expeditious effort to justly compensate persons for such real property by negotiation and agreement[iv].
The condemnor should establish an amount which it believes to represent just compensation for the real property to be acquired[v]. NY CLS EDPL § 401 provides that the condemnor may commence proceedings to acquire the property necessary for the proposed public project up to three years after conclusion of the later of:
- publication of its determination and findings, or
- the date of the order or completion of the procedure that constitutes the basis of exemption, or
- entry of the final order or judgment on judicial review.
Pursuant to NY CLS EDPL § 404, the condemnor, its officers, agents or contractors when acquiring real property in accordance with law, or when engaged in work connected with a proposed public project, have the right to enter upon any real property for the purpose of making surveys, test pits and borings, or other investigations, and also for temporary occupancy during construction.
In a claim for damages arising from the acquisition of real property, a condemnee should file within three years after service of the notice of acquisition or date of vesting, whichever is later, or within such time as is fixed by order of the court, a claim for damages with the clerk of the court having jurisdiction of the matter, and a copy of said claim upon such other official designated in the notice of acquisition to receive such service[vi].
The court, after hearing the testimony and weighing the evidence, determines the compensation due the condemnees for damages as the result of the acquisition[vii].
[i] NY CLS EDPL § 202.
[ii] NY CLS EDPL § 203.
[iii] NY CLS EDPL § 204.
[iv] NY CLS EDPL § 301.
[v] NY CLS EDPL § 303.
[vi] NY CLS EDPL § 503.
[vii] NY CLS EDPL § 512.