Good news and bad news. The good news is that a New York appellate court has ruled against the plundering of private property.
The court determined that New York State cannot use eminent domain to grab land for Columbia University’s expansion project. According to the ruling, assertions that the neighborhoods to be grabbed are “blighted” are mere sophistry, cooked up to justify a decision that had already been made — hardly a shocking revelation to longtime students of eminent domain abuse.
Property owners in the threatened area are jubilant about the ruling. Nicholas Sprayregen, an owner of self-storage warehouses who has refused to sell to the university, says he was “always cautiously optimistic.” But he also knew that “we were going against 50 years of unfair cases against property owners.”
Unfortunately, an appeal of the decision will be heard in the New York State Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, which just ruled six to one that the state was justified in grabbing land to turn over to a Brooklyn developer for the so-called Atlantic Yards project.
Columbia already owns some 95 percent of the land they wanted for their multi-billion-dollar project. As Sprayregen notes, they could easily proceed without the 5 percent owned by the holdouts. But to avoid a little inconvenience, university officials seemed willing to violate the rights and destroy the livelihoods of others.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.