In a deservedly celebratory mood, Nick Sprayregen writes in the NY Post today that his court victory is, "A win for the people." He goes on to say: "The court was clear in its ruling: The state may not take property from one private party merely to hand it over to another private party. To do so is not only a violation of the state and federal Constitutions, but it is anathema to the very construct of our great country — the vital importance of private property rights."
He also-as we have done-focuses on the phony use of "blight" to justify condemnation: "Columbia pretended that this neighborhood was blighted (and thus an appropriate place for the use of eminent domain), yet nothing was further from the truth. The court saw this, stating, "The blight designation was utilized [by the state] years after the scheme was hatched to justify the employment of eminent domain but this project has always primarily concerned a massive capital project for Columbia." In short, the project was a land grab — and the use of eminent domain was a means to fix the outcome."
So everyone is waiting for the next step-a Court of Appeals decision that will be the ultimate arbiter of the Columbia expansion plan. However, it shouldn't be left up to the court to decide this issue-and the legislature needs to emerge from its moribund state and amend the eminent domain statutes. A more level-and equitable-playing field is an absolute necessity for all New York's property owners and small businesses.