Senate Passes Alesi Bill To Create Commission To Examine Eminent Domain

James S. Alesi

June 05, 2007

Senator Alesi (R-Perinton) today announced that the State Senate has passed his bill to (Senate Bill 282) establish a temporary commission on eminent domain reform to examine, evaluate, and make recommendations concerning the scope and effectiveness of the eminent domain procedure law.

The legislation was crafted after a series of statewide hearings chaired by Senator Alesi and held by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business and the Committee on Local Governments. The hearings were in response to the United States Supreme Court Ruling in Kelo v. The City of New London which enabled a locality, New London, to condemn and take private property by the use of eminent domain and transfer ownership to a private developer to further an economic development plan for the city.

In an effort to insure that all points of view were heard on the issue of eminent domain, hearings were held in Rochester, followed by Albany, Long Island, White Plains and Syracuse. Each geographic region highlighted different concerns and details of local areas where eminent domain has been used or is being considered.

One major theme heard throughout was the State and its citizens would benefit from the implementation of a task force or commission to further study technical issues that may require adjustment such as the definitions of blight and public use and reforming the computation of fair market value. The theme was addressed by individuals and organizations invited to testify at the statewide hearings including New York State Farm Bureau, New York State Conference of Mayors, New York State Association of Towns, The Albany Law School Government Law Center, New York State Builders Association, New York State Realtors Association, local property rights organizations, and good government groups.

Senator Alesi's legislation addresses these issues by creating a temporary commission on eminent domain reform. The temporary commission will consist of experts familiar to both sides of the eminent domain issue. The commission will also examine, evaluate, and make recommendations concerning the scope and effectiveness of the eminent domain procedure law.

"We as a State, have spent a great deal of time and resources making New York a better place to live and do business," said Senator Alesi. "We must not be reactionary to an admittedly emotional issue. By tying the hands of government and creating an outright prohibition on the use of eminent domain for economic development purposes, we will take a giant step backwards. Economic development improves the lives of all New Yorkers by increasing the tax base, creating new jobs and improving the economy as a whole."

The bill has been sent to the Assembly.