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State Assembly Continues Moving Forward with Solid Eminent Domain Reforms
Assemblyman Richard Brodsky Introduces Eminent Domain Ombudsman Bill
Proposal Is Modeled After the Successful Utah State Property Rights Ombudsman

There are few events more distressing than being notified that your home is to be taken under the government's eminent domain power. There can be no place to turn for honest information and assistance. Under a bill known as the "Eminent Domain Ombudsman Act" (A.9152) proposed by New York State Assemblyman Richard L. Brodsky (D., Westchester), the property owner would have access to an expert who can help.

One of the important powers of the Eminent Domain Ombudsman would be to "advise private property owners who have a legitimate potential or actual eminent domain claim against a state or local government entity."

The ombudsman would be an expert in constitutional Takings law. Among other powers, the ombudsman would be able to mediate or arrange arbitration for disputes between private property owners and government entities that involve Takings law cases, actions for eminent domain, and disputes about relocation assistance. In addition to these provisions, the bill, which is modeled after the Utah State Property Rights Ombudsman law, gives the ombudsman a number of other powers to afford a fair deal to property owners who are caught in the tentacles of eminent domain.

The bill also provides that the ombudsman would assist state agencies and local governments in developing guidelines. Last year, Craig M. Call, the Utah ombudsman, authored an excellent Utah citizen's guide to eminent domain. In both 2004 and 2005, Mr. Call addressed the Annual National Conference on Private Property Rights sponsored by the Property Rights Foundation of America, as did Jim Malatras, the Legislative Director for Mr. Brodsky, who is the Chair of the Assembly Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions.

By Carol W. LaGrasse

Richard L. Brodsky asks a question of one of the seven experts on eminent domain invited to testify at the joint Assembly hearing held by the Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions, which he chairs, and the Judiciary Committee on November 1, 2005 in Albany.
Photo: Peter J. LaGrasse

 

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