City must pay for paving private property

DOT paved over portion of Staten Island property owner’s land. Foxwood Forest Lenca LLC owned a 15,700 sq.ft. parcel of land abutting Forest Hill Road on Staten Island. The land was undeveloped, and the portion along Forest Hill Road consisted primarily of grass and other vegetation. In 2008, the Department of Transportation entered Foxwood’s property and paved over this grassy area. According to DOT’s borough commissioner, the paving was done to address unsafe roadway conditions on Forest Hill Road.

Foxwood sued the City, claiming that the City’s actions constituted a de facto taking of its land even if performed to remedy alleged safety concerns. Foxwood also claimed that drivers traversed and parked on the paved portion of its land as if it were part of Forest Hill Road. The City countered that it did not deprive Foxwood of its use and enjoyment of its land, arguing that Foxwood could still enter and leave its property and implying that Foxwood had a duty to clearly mark the lot line of its property.

Justice Joseph J. Maltese ruled in favor of Foxwood, finding that the City had intruded onto the property for a public purpose, which deprived Foxwood of the land’s use and value. The court scheduled a pre-trial conference on the issue of damages.

Foxwood Forest Lenca LLC v. City of New York, 2010 N.Y. Slip Op. 32847U (Richmond Cty. Sup. Ct. Oct. 5, 2010) (Maltese, J.).

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