Senator Alesi Issues Eminent Domain Report

James S. Alesi

April 20, 2006

Senator Alesi (R-C Perinton) today issued a report summarizing statewide hearings 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 Supreme Court Ruling on Kelo V. The City of New London (CT). Senator Alesi was appointed to Chair the hearings at the direction of New York State Senate Majority Leader, Joseph Bruno.

In June 2005, the Supreme Court of the United States rendered a decision that enabled a locality, New London (CT), 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. This decision has raised questions about what if any legislative action should be taken in New York State in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling.

In an effort to insure that all points of view were heard on the issue of eminent domain, hearings were held across the State. The first was 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. However, two themes were consistent throughout the State.

First, New York’s law is not significantly affected by the Kelo decision. Second, 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 themes were addressed by individuals invited to testify at the statewide hearings. These individuals came from organizations such as the 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.

Therefore, Senator Alesi is recommending legislation be adopted which would establish a task force or commission to study the issue of eminent domain, determine whether New York’s current eminent domain laws need to be changed, and develop a succinct and clear definition of the word "blight."

"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."

Copies of the eminent domain report are available at the Office of State Senator Jim Alesi. Any individual who would like a copy should send a written request to:

Senator Jim Alesi
Legislative Office Building- Room 905
Albany, New York 12207
re: Eminent Domain Report