Lowball Watch — New York

Here is a dispatch from Rockland County, New York. The local Sewer District brough a condemnation action to take a 64-acre tract of vacant land located in Ramapo, and offered the owner $244,000. The owner declined it, so the case went to trial. At trial, the condemnor upped its evidence of value to $320,000. The owner’s appraiser opined to compensation of $8,850,000 based on a market data analysis. The trial judge (there are no juries in New York eminent domain cases) awarded $8,100,000, plus interest from February 15, 2005. In other words, the award was thirty-three times the offer.

The case is Split Rock Partnership v. Rockland County Sewer District, Rockland County Supreme Court, Index No. 7604/04.

The controversy centered on the property’s highest and best use. The owners contended that the subject property was suitable for development of a large commercial building. Condemnor disagreed.

If you have an interest in valuation evidence, we recommend you reard this entire lengthy opinion which is fact-intensive.