Public Hearing on Legislation by Maisano & Abinanti to Protect Private Property Owners

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Public Hearing on Legislation by Maisano & Abinanti to Protect Private Property Owners – law bans use of County funds for projects misusing eminent domain

Public hearing slated for September 7, 2010

Legislation co-sponsored by Westchester County Legislators Tom Abinanti (D- Greenburgh) and James Maisano (R- New Rochelle), giving increased protections for Westchester County private property owners against wrongful use of the power of eminent domain, will be the subject of a public hearing on Tuesday, September 7, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. at the Westchester County Board of Legislators.

“The original beneficial public purpose of eminent domain has been corrupted,” said Abinanti. “We are witnessing distressing instances where eminent domain is used by or for powerful developers and the rights of private citizens are undercut.”

This legislation would limit Westchester County’s power to condemn private property for private use. “Government should not take private property unless it is necessary to meet a real public need, not just because it prefers one use over another or one developer over another,” said Abinanti.

Maisano stated, “I’ve witnessed eminent domain being used against property owners who simply don’t have the financial resources to defend themselves against the power of their local government and developers. Eminent domain should not be used for private developments such as shopping malls and luxury apartments. Our law is an attempt to protect private property owners from the eminent domain abuses we see too often.” Maisano continued, “Too often the power of eminent domain is used by a municipality or economic development agency to give an advantage to a favored developer over private property owners.”

The legislation will also prohibit Westchester County from contributing funds to any development that uses eminent domain to take private property for private use. The proposed legislation would not however, preclude the use of eminent domain for affordable housing projects.

Maisano added, “With this legislation being sponsored by the Majority and Minority Leaders, we hope to put together a bipartisan coalition to pass the law in 2010.”

Abinanti and Maisano serve respectively as Majority and Minority Leader of the Westchester County Board of Legislators.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010 at 7:00 p.m.
8th floor Michaelian Office Building – 148 Martine Avenue White Plains 10601

One thought on “Public Hearing on Legislation by Maisano & Abinanti to Protect Private Property Owners”

  1. Eminent Domain
    Those of us who have faced the threat of eminent domain know two things: It is a sobering experience and private property owners do not stand on a level playing field legally, politically or economically.

    One hopes that the legislation proposed by Messrs. Abinanti and Maisano will cover more than one type of eminent domain.

    Because, for example, more eminent domain is on its way through many back doors. In addition to economic development takings using the Kelo or “blight” approach, we are in the midst of natural resource development takings in pursuit of shale gas (as in the Marcellus shale in New York State).

    The pursuit of this gas-rich shale brings with it more pipelines and more underground gas storage fields — and that (pipelines & storage fields) always means eminent domain. And in New York, the gas industry already benefits from compulsory integration which permits gas companies to seize gas under your property, even if you refuse to sign a lease.

    Unfortunately, the otherwise excellent Institute for Justice of Kelo fame declines to intervene in energy/utility takings because, they told me, of the “public good” premise. Instead, the Institute should reconsider and offer support in this expanding “market” for eminent domain abuse.

    But property owners can fight back. Our two-year battle against Houston-based Spectra Energy which seized our property rights for an underground gas storage field led to the development of a website. If you want to learn from our experience and understand this type of eminent domain, refer to this post: Spectra Energy

    Or here:

    Private property rights are so fundamental that founding fathers such as Samuel Adams described it as an “essential” right and wrote, “that no man can justly take the property of another without his consent.”

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