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Road Improvement Serving Primarily Commercial Vehicles Does not Defeat Eminent Domain

The Appellate Division held that taking of private property by eminent domain fulfilled a public purpose even though the taking primarily benefited commercial traffic. In the Matter of 225 Front Street, Ltd. v. City of Binghamton the court noted the limited scope of judicial review of a proceeding under the EDPL which “must focus on “whether the proceeding was in conformity with constitutional requirements, whether the proposed acquisition is within the statutory jurisdiction or authority of the condemnor, whether the condemnor’s determination and findings were made in accordance with the procedures set forth in EDPL article 2 and ECL article 8, and whether a proposed [public] use, benefit or purpose will be served by the proposed acquisition.”

Here the Court found that the purpose of acquiring the petitioner’s property was to facilitate road improvements in order to resolve traffic congestion in the City. Petitioner argued that the taking served no public purpose but was for the private benefit of commercial traffic. The court held: “[p]utting aside the fact that commercial use of public highways has obvious public benefits, there can be no doubt but that where an intersection of two public roadways is constructed in such a way that some vehicles cannot safely negotiate it, all vehicular traffic that utilizes the area is obviously affected. This project, as designed, seeks to address such a concern and, as such, has a public purpose.”

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