Is it legal for New York State to take your private property? Let's take a look at what rights the government in New York State has to take your home or property.

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What Is Eminent Domain?

You may have heard the term eminent domain, but don't know exactly what it means. According to Merriam-Webster, eminent domain is,

a right of a government to take private property for public use by virtue of the superior dominion of the sovereign power over all lands within its jurisdiction.

The New York State Attorney General, Letitia James, provides reasons for the government utilizing eminent domain, such as to create public parks, to create a new road, or to provide housing for underserved communities.

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Can New York State Legally Take Your Property Using Eminent Domain?

The short answer is YES.

The long answer is still YES, but there are many steps the government must go through first.

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Before New York State or a local government in the state can seize your property for the public good, it must:

- Begin an extensive engineering process, including planning and design phases
- Conduct a public hearing near your property
- Give the property owner an opportunity to present oral or written statements and documents
- Within 90 days of the hearing, it must provide its findings and determination and publish it in a local newspaper and send it to the affected property owner

If the government finds that it is going to take your property, you have 30 days after the notice is published in the newspaper to challenge it with an appeal.

Such petitions for appeal must be filed in the appellate division of the supreme court in the county in which the property is located, and are limited to the issues, facts and objections raised at the hearing. The supreme court's determination is limited to whether or not the hearing complied with all provisions of law, and whether or not a public use, benefit or purpose will be served by the proposed acquisition.

Photo by Clay LeConey on Unsplash
Photo by Clay LeConey on Unsplash

What Happens If You Lose Your Appeal?

If you lose the appeal, the government will be able to take your private property. However, it will have to pay you fair market value for it.

Just compensation is usually considered to be the fair market value - that is, the highest price somebody would pay for the property, were it in the hands of a willing seller. The date upon which the value is assessed will vary, depending upon the governing law. If the parties do not agree on the value, they will typically utilize appraisers to assist in the negotiation process.

You can get more info on eminent domain in New York State here.

***This article is not intended to provide legal advice. Please consult an attorney if your property is being threatened by eminent domain in New York State.

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