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  1. #1
    Amy_ISS is offline Community Manager
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    Default NY Self-Storage Loses Eminent Domain Battle

    After months of court battles and appeals, Nicholas Sprayregen, owner of four Tuck-It-Away Self Storage facilities in N.Y., has lost his fight in an eminent domain case.

    You can read all about the case here. Basically, Columbia University has big explansion plans and wants to plow over Sprayregen's property.

    What's your take on this? Should the government be allowed to "take over" land in the name of "civic purpose"?
    Amy Campbell
    Editor
    Inside Self-Storage
    acampbell@vpico.com

    @AmyCampbell_ISS

  2. #2
    StorGirl is offline Member
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    Default Re: NY Self-Storage Loses Eminent Domain Battle

    Yes, I do. I agreed with Kelo v. City of New London, 545 U.S. 469 (2005)[1]. I believe that the United States should be able to use eminent domain to transfer land from one private owner to another to further economic development. However, I believe that municipalities using eminent domain should demonstrate a strong case supporting a comprehensive development plan and of course, the property owner should be justly compensated for their property. Not only their properties value, but any/all value that might be inherent in the operation of their business on the property. Lastly, I believe that their should always be a stipulation placed on the municipality that development must be completed within 5-10 years. Failure to utilize the property within a prescribed time period should grant the original property the option of repurchasing their property at the valuation given at the time of conveyance.

  3. #3
    Steve_hajewski is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: NY Self-Storage Loses Eminent Domain Battle

    This seems really wrong to me. I've read about this in the past, and that property was not blighted in any way shape or form, as was confirmed by the lower court judge. As for the rest of the block being a blighted area... well, local reports mentioned that it was not blighted until Columbia began buying the other buildings.

    I'm not a big fan of government seizing property and businesses from individuals. It would be another story if it were in tax default, a known drughouse, etc, but it wasn't. Storage valuations are down right now, but used to be higher and will likely go back up. How will they compensate him? By todays depressed comparable values?

    Steve

  4. #4
    MisterJim444 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: NY Self-Storage Loses Eminent Domain Battle

    I know Nick Sprayregen– he served on the NYSSA Board when I was President. I hope that he is willing to carry the fight to the Supreme Court. StorGal I was interested in your comment that the Federal Government should be allowed to make decisions over the “best use” of private lands. I am not sure that you would feel that way if the government was taking your home so another person could build a high rise condo project because it would be “better” for our community then you living there. Would you feel justly compensated if you were paid what your home is worth today? It is not just about dollars – it is about an underlying right.

    When you look at this situation, a University feels that what they want to do with Nick’s property is “better” then what he is doing with it right now – employing a bunch of people and turning a profit. But it is HIS land not theirs. Where do we draw the line where the federal, state or local governments do not get to dictate what I get to do with my own property?

    I have heard about countless stories of eminent domain abuse across the country. We are not talking about needing to take a few feet of land for highway improvements or the necessary taking of property for expansion of an airport. We are talking about one private business (in this case a University) wanting to take over other people’s private property because they want to expand and used the government to seize the land via eminent domain. I consider private property rights one of the bedrock foundations of our country. Watching Nick fight to keep his property has really become a modern day battle of David and Goliath. I hope that he is able to keep fighting because each time a case like this is lost – another chip is chiseled from our country’s foundation.

    MisterJim444
    Learning Never Ends, But Will Time?

  5. #5
    StorGirl is offline Member
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    Default Re: NY Self-Storage Loses Eminent Domain Battle

    Actually Mr. MisterJim444, I don't think we are far apart on this issue. In the instant case, the University may not have a justifiable need as a viable self storage facility is not a substandard use of the land and Nick sounds like a seasoned, professional operator. Rather, my view is that the government "should" have this power but it should be used judiciously and the government MUST demonstrate a pressing need for the property. For example, if Nick owned a run down scrap yard that detracted from the community and was an improper land use, then PERHAPS the University might be granted eminent domain. This would depend on whether the University had other options, etc.

    My point is that I think we (Government) should have this power and should exercise it carefully. The problem with eminent domain is that it is rife with corruption and greed. Too many developers have been allowed to misuse and abuse these enumerated powers in the Constitution to ride rough shod over often defenseless land owners. In terms of compensation, I believe landowners should be given the fair market value for their property determined in commercial real estate as the highest value within the previous 5 years. Moreover, I believe the landowner should be given a "Takings Award" of an additional amount that matches their actual land value. This would give a strong incentive for municipalities to think twice before using eminent domain.

  6. #6
    MisterJim444 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: NY Self-Storage Loses Eminent Domain Battle

    StorGal:

    It does sound like we are not far apart. One of the problems with an eminent domain settlement is that if, for example, my intention was to hold the business and pass it along to future generations the settlement that I receive will not reflect that future value. And of course, there is no way to compensate me for the pride that I have in owing a business – a home or any property. I will agree that there are a few situations were the broader community good or health and welfare can supersede an individual’s rights. However, the recent past history of community seizures from one private individual to financially benefit another private individual is hard to accept.

    MisterJim444
    Learning Never Ends, But Will Time?

  7. #7
    StorGirl is offline Member
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    Default Re: NY Self-Storage Loses Eminent Domain Battle

    Some very good points made Jim. I want to commend you for having a polite and respectful exchange of view points. Other moderators in this forum often chide or marginalize opinions expressed herein. You present a good point, "How would anyone feel at the receiving end of an eminent domain proceeding?"

    Thank you Jim!!!!

  8. #8
    Ian M. Johnson's Avatar
    Ian M. Johnson is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: NY Self-Storage Loses Eminent Domain Battle

    There is a document that Thomas Jefferson borrowed from...I believe there was a line in it that stated : "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of land". Don't get me wrong. I'm all for government meddling in healthcare, defense of the country, and ensuring fair treatment of all people, but to essentially steal somebody's property? Sell it to us, for our price, or else?! There is a fine line between ensuring public welfare, and removing human rights.

    My family has land in the Tennesee hills that's been with us for generations. We use it for a variety of things, none economical. (dirtbiking, mountainbiking, getting away from EVERYTHING) The idea of losing it to a company buggs the bejebus out of me.

    Excerpt form Wiki:
    The first and second article of the Virginia Declaration of Rights adopted unanimously by the Virginia Convention of Delegates on June 12, 1776 and written by George Mason, is:

    That all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.
    Last edited by Ian M. Johnson; 25th June 2010 at 01:21 PM. Reason: the personal touch
    Consistency- It's only a virtue if you're not a screwup

 

 
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