Court orders advance condemnation payment

Over one year after City took title of Staten Island property,owner had not received advance payment. As part of the 1989 stormwater management plan developed for Staten Island, the City began acquiring property consisting of stream corridors and wetlands collectively known as the Bluebelt. One property, owned by Ramfis Realty, was part of the eminent domain acquisition approved by the City Council in 2005. Although title had passed to the City in 2008, Ramfis had yet to receive an advance payment. Ramfis filed a motion with the court, seeking an order that the City make an advance payment. In response, the City argued that it could not issue an advance payment because it did not have the required appraisal. It had hired two appraisers, but the reports had not been completed because the property included wetlands and therefore the appraisal was more complicated. The City further argued that since the property was vacant and Ramfis was not in possession, it was not facing any hardship. Finally, the City claimed that Ramfis would be compensated with six percent interest for any delay in payment.

Justice Abraham Gerges directed the City to submit an appraisal within 30 days and to make an advance payment 15 days thereafter. Justice Gerges rejected the City’s argument that it lacked sufficient time to conduct the complicated wetland’s appraisal. Despite the property’s vacancy and Ramfis’ financial situation, the court found that the City was required to compensate Ramfis in a timely manner.

In re South Beach Bluebelt, Phase 1, 2009 NY Slip Op. 51066U (Kings Cty.Sup.Ct. May 29, 2009) (Gerges, J.) (Attorneys: Michael Rikon, for Ramfis; Matthew Cutler, for NYC).

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