Taking Private Land
October 4th, 2006
What does an upstate power line project have to do with Atlantic Yards? They both involve eminent domain and raise the question of when it is justifiable to take private land for a purportedly greater purpose.
Yesterday, Governor George Pataki signed a bill that limits the use of eminent domain by electric and gas companies. The measure is aimed at something called the New York Regional Interconnect, a proposed 200-mile power line going from Utica to the lower Hudson Valley.
Reporting from the Rome area, News 10 hailed the signing as “a big win for the Mohawk Valley community who rallied against plans” for the power line project. Calling eminent domain a “medieval practice,” The Binghamton blog Bingoblab said now developers of the line” will have to actually negotiate (as opposed to ‘take’) with the land owners for the right of way they need to acquire.”
But the move attracted more questions in the city, where many think such energy projects could avoid summer-time brownouts – and where Forest City Ratner might use eminent domain to take land for the controversial Atlantic Yards project. In an editorial criticizing Pataki, the Sun complains, “while preserving the state’s right to seize land for, say, a new office tower for the New York Times or housing for a Ratner project, the governor’s bill tries to forestall one of the few exercises of eminent domain that’s in keeping with the founders’ intent.”
Just so, agrees the anti Atlantic Yards blog No Land Grab: ” Whatever your position on the transmission lines, it is curious that the governor supports land grabs for a privately owned arena, but is perfectly willing to nix the use of eminent domain for an infrastructure project.
Examining the situation, Capitol Confidential wonders if politics might be at work. It notes that Pataki signed the bill in the hotly contested 24th congressional district. According to the Albany Times Union blog, the district is New York’s only open congressional seat this year and ” viewed by the Democrats as their best shot at picking up a GOP-held seat here in November.”By Gail Robinson on October 4, 2006, 8:40 am
In category: Albany, Community Development, Electoral Politics, Environment, Gotham City, Land Use | 2 Comments »