The New York State Bar Association is calling upon the state Legislature to set up a temporary commission to study proposed changed to eminent domain laws in the state.
A. Vincent Buzard, president of the association, submitted testimony to the state’s Senate Judiciary Committee this month requesting that the state refrain from changing existing law until the proposed commission completes its review.
A U.S. Supreme Court decision in an eminent domain case, Kelo vs. City of New London, provoked public outcry and prompted several states to strengthen homeowner protections in eminent domain laws. The Kelo case found that a local government acted legally in using eminent domain to purchase private property and allow a private developer to build on that land.
“Kelo is based on established legal precedent, it is not a revolutionary departure from existing law, and, in fact, would have been decided the same under New York law,” Buzard wrote in his testimony.
He also stated, “The law in this area is too complicated to amend piecemeal. Resolving issues involving eminent domain will best be accomplished through study by a Temporary State Commission on Eminent Domain to assure that all viewpoints are represented and that all the issues involved in this area of the law receive careful consideration.
“Our position is that unwarranted attacks on the Supreme Court’s Kelo decision are based on misunderstanding, that they undermine public confidence in the judiciary, and are inappropriate.”
In the aftermath of the Kelo case, the state bar association formed a Task Force on Eminent Domain. The right of property owners to challenge the taking of their property for public purposes was among the issues considered by the association’s task force.