Property Owners Lose in New York; Supreme Court Upholds Eminent Domain Case

The New Jersey Nets have finally claimed their first victory of the season. Unfortunately for the hapless NBA team, their win did not come on the basketball court, but in the State Court. The New York Court of Appeals upheld the lower court decision in Goldstein v. New York State Urban Development Corporation. The case is centered around a dispute between home owners and corporate developers, who intend to build a massive new complex, including the new home of the NBA’s New Jersey Nets. Not surprisingly, New York’s legal system has once again sided with politically connected developers, and against homeowners and small businesses.  

Following jurisprudence similar to the Supreme Court’s infamous Kelo v. New London decision, the New York Court of Appeals ruled that the state may seize privately owned property to make way for commercial development. Last week’s decision from the State’s highest court gives the green light to developers who plan to take and demolish private homes and businesses in Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards neighborhood.  The plan includes plans to build sixteen high-rise towers and a new arena for the NBA’s worst team. 

Property owners are now in a more precarious position than ever. The Institute for Justice asserts that ethically dubious tactics used in this case open the door to corporate influence peddling in the court, and will undoubtedly lead to the invasion of property rights. This decision continues a pattern of attacks on property rights in the Empire State. Since Kelo v. London 43 states have strengthened laws protecting property rights, but New York legislators have failed to get the message. This decision sets a disturbing precedent that has potentially devastating consequences. Goldstein v. New York State Urban Development Corporation was a slam dunk for corporate developers, and the New York legislature must step in before the fight for property rights becomes a blow out.