YONKERS, NY — August 24, 2019 — The Yonkers Industrial Development Agency (YIDA) was desirous to take possession and control of a 3.6-acre property that has long been a parking / storage facility of MTA buses. The property, a 3.6-acre acre facility was purchased by New York City and has since leased the property to the MTA.
In 2015, Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano announced his intent to condemn the property by engaging eminent domain principles after asserting his many years in search of an alternative location for the MTA bus depot. The City of New York (NYC) and the MTA petitioned the court to deny the condemnation
Mayor Spano emphasized that the bus depot undermined the City of Yonkers (CoY) to develop the waterfront. There was a subtle duality to the concept espoused by Mayor Spano, one that the Appellate Court, Second Department, recognized as a planned ploy, intentioned to be accomplished in stages.
The first stage was to seize the property but without undermining the lease agreement the MTA had with New York City. The second stage, upon gaining condemnation of the property, was to force the MTA facility to one of CoY’s choosing. It was an intentioned legal land grab ill conceived by Yonkers Corporation Counsel’s legal eagles.
The March 20, 2019th, four-judges Appellate Court ruled that the proposed condemnation requested by the Yonkers Industrial Development Agency may not be granted under the doctrine of prior public use.
Municipalities have broad authority in New York to take property for a public use or benefit. In this case, the four-judge appellate panel ruled, the
The Appellate Court was well aware that municipalities have long established legitimate public purpose, such as increasing the municipality’s economic viability and and tax base.
But Yonkers Corporation Counsel’s legal eagles erred by suggesting that land could be condemned; it cannot under the prior public use doctrine, if the new public use interferes with an existing public use. So attested the Appellate Court, Second Department, in unanimity.
The Appellate Court cited comments expressed by YIDA officials at a 2017 public hearing:
- “It’s not a proper spot for them.”
- “We need to get this out of the way.”
- “It has to go if we want development to continue.”
The Appellate Court unanimously deduced that quotes noted above unequivocally confirmed CoY’s intent would indeed interfere with the bus depot. To wit, the Appellate Court determined that condemning the property “must be rejected!”