Court Won't Hear Eminent Domain Case

The Associated Press
Tuesday, January 16, 2007; 12:57 PM

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to consider a property rights case involving a redevelopment project in New York state where businessmen are fighting local government efforts to take their land.

The businessmen say the village of Port Chester, N.Y., filed a condemnation petition to acquire their property the day after the businessmen rejected what they said was a demand by the project developer for $800,000.

The developer allegedly was demanding the money or a 50 percent interest in the businessmen's own project to put a CVS Pharmacy on the site.

In response to the action by Port Chester, property owner Bart Didden and his partners sued, saying the condemnation was purely for private financial gain and not for a public purpose.

A federal judge and the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals say the property owners waited too long to complain in court.

Port Chester and the developer agreed to the redevelopment in 1999 and Didden and his partners waited three years to file a legal challenge, lawyers for the village and developer say.

Lawyers for the property owners say it wasn't until the developer tried to exact a cash payment from them in 2003 that they had a basis to sue.

The case is the latest twist in an ongoing debate over government taking private property for redevelopment.

In 2005, the Supreme Court ruled that municipalities have broad power to bulldoze people's homes and put up shopping malls or other private development to generate tax revenue.

The Port Chester land owners say that if the appeals court ruling is allowed to stand, it will effectively insulate condemnations in redevelopment areas from judicial review.

The case is Didden v. Port Chester, 06-652.

© 2007 The Associated Press