Is the Eminent Domain Process Fair?

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As Mayor Bloomberg campaigns for a third term largely on his record of economic development, his Democratic opponent Bill Thompson says ordinary New Yorkers have been left out of the decision-making process. Whether the city's use of eminent domain for economic development is unfair was up for debate today as part of the Brian Lehrer Show's 30 Issues in Thirty Days series. Kathryn Wylde, president and CEO of the Partnership for New York City, says people have many opportunities to raise objections to urban renewal plans.

Nobody wants to knock out business. Nobody wants to knock out homes unnecessarily, and I saw time and time again that there were compromises and negotiations made that ended up making the projects and the application of eminent domain very much in the public interest.

But Dana Berliner, senior attorney with the Institute for Justice, says New York is the worst state in the nation for people objecting to eminent domain.

No one listens to them, no changes are made and then the only opportunities for legal challenge are hidden in the middle of the process so that you're required in New York to challenge the use of eminent domain before if you even know if your property is going to be taken.

Berliner says the courts in New York tend to side with government agencies when lawsuits are filed.