Matter of Western Ramapo Sewer Extension Project
Justice John LaCava
A trial took place in an Eminent Domain Procedure Law Article 5 proceeding challenging the valuation by the Rockland County Sewer District of real property taken from Split Rock Partnership. The subject property consisted of more than 64 acres of vacant land in the Village of Hillburn, Town of Ramapo, Rockland County. The Court of Claims found after trial that Split Rock established a reasonable probability that a zoning change for the property would have been granted and Split Rock's failure to previously pursue the zoning change or the necessary permits, prior to the appropriation, was reasonable under all of the circumstances. The Court of Claims also held the change in zoning would have allowed Split Rock to develop the property as an office complex and that such development constituted the highest and best use for the property both before and after the taking. This court made a determination based on the credible evidence adduced at trial, and upon consideration of the arguments of respective counsel and the post-trial submissions, and awarded Split Rock Partners the calculated cost of the loss from the direct taking, namely the amount of $8.1 million plus interest from the date of the taking.