Haverstraw (Again) Ordered to Pay Huge Monies in CondemnationProceedings

By Joel Grossbarth

A little over a year after the Village of Haverstraw was ordered by an appeals court to pay almost $8 million dollars to a property owner that the village took land from, that same court has now ordered the village to pay over $1 million to a different property owner and lessee that the village condemned property from.

The Appellate Division, Second Department in Brooklyn ruled last week that the village pay Ferguson Management Company, LLC almost $800,000 for property it owned and taken by eminent domain by the village. The court also ordered the village pay Ferguson’s tenant Executive Touch Landscaping & Construction, LLC over $70,000 for its fixtures and improvements to the property. The Village of Haverstraw condemned Ferguson’s property in 2006. The village appraised Ferguson’s property at $316,500, but actually tendered $575,000 as an advance payment. Ferguson objected to the village’s appraisal and payment and sought a trial in Rockland County Supreme Court.

At trial, Ferguson offered evidence that the fair market value and best use of the property should be appraised at $800,000. The trial judge found that “on the whole, Ferguson had provided more competent evidence to support its calculation than the village.” The trial judge ordered the Village of Haverstraw to pay
$721,671 to Ferguson for the fair market value of its property. Having been successful at trial, the attorneys for Ferguson then sought an additional allowance pursuant to New York Eminent Domain law contending that the respective awards substantially exceeded the village’s proof at trial.

The trial Court then awarded additional allowances (in the form of interest, attorneys fees, etc.) of $106,480 to Ferguson and $127,064 to executive. The village appealed the rulings. The Appeals Court agreed with the village and reduced the award of additional allowance since the difference between the village’s initial offer and the actual award was not “substantially in excess of the proof.” The Appeals Court also agreed with the village that executive was not entitled to any additional allowances since it was unsuccessful to many of the claims for compensation.

Additionally, the court reduced the amount of post-judgment interest the village had to pay. Initially, the trial court ordered the village to pay 9 percent statutory interest. However, the court held that the eminent domain law only allows interest at no greater than 6 percent and reduced the award accordingly.