Town of Oyster Bay v. 55 Motor Ave. Co.

Decision Date07 October 2020
Docket NumberIndex No. 11488/03,2019–03930
Citation187 A.D.3d 760,133 N.Y.S.3d 578
Parties In the Matter of TOWN OF OYSTER BAY, appellant-respondent, v. 55 MOTOR AVENUE COMPANY, LLC, et al., respondents-appellants.
CourtNew York Supreme Court — Appellate Division

MargolinBesunder LLP, Islandia, N.Y. (Linda U. Margolin, Harvey B. Besunder, and Zachary D. Dubey of counsel), for appellant-respondent.

Certilman Balin Adler & Hyman LLP, East Meadow, N.Y. (M. Allan Hyman and Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP [James G. Greilsheimer ], of counsel), for respondents-appellants.

ALAN D. SCHEINKMAN, P.J., JOHN M. LEVENTHAL, ROBERT J. MILLER, PAUL WOOTEN, JJ.

DECISION & ORDER

In a condemnation proceeding, the petitioner appeals, and the claimants cross-appeal, from a judgment of the Supreme Court, Nassau County (Thomas A. Adams, J.), entered March 5, 2019. The judgment, insofar as appealed from, awarded the claimants the principal sum of $9,732,498 as just compensation for the taking of the subject property. The judgment, insofar as cross-appealed from, awarded the claimants the principal sum of only $9,732,498 as just compensation for the taking of the subject property.

ORDERED that the judgment is modified, on the law and the facts, by deleting the provision thereof awarding the claimants the principal sum of $9,732,498 as just compensation for the taking of the subject property, and substituting therefor a provision awarding the claimants the principal sum of $4,295,634 as just compensation for the taking of the subject property; as so modified, the judgment is affirmed insofar as appealed and cross-appealed from, with one bill of costs to the petitioner, and the matter is remitted to the Supreme Court, Nassau County, for a recalculation of interest on the award, and thereafter for the entry of an appropriate amended judgment.

On September 5, 2003 (hereinafter the vesting date), the Town of Oyster Bay condemned a 14.03–acre parcel of land located at 55 Motor Avenue in Farmingdale (hereinafter parcel 1) in order to expand an abutting public park. At that time, the claimants owned parcel 1, along with two other contiguous parcels to its east: an approximately 7.51–acre parcel to the east of parcel 1 (hereinafter parcel 2), and an approximately 8.7–acre parcel to the east of parcel 2 (hereinafter parcel 3). The three parcels together (hereinafter the subject property) comprised approximately 30.49 acres. On the vesting date, the subject property was zoned LI-light industrial.

The subject property had been designated in 1986 a federal "superfund" site due to environmental contamination of the soil and ground water. In 2002, the United States Environmental Protection Agency issued a Record of Decision mandating a remediation of the subject property. As of the vesting date, there was a ground water remediation building situated on parcel 1. The parties agree that the water treatment facility and surrounding "buffer" area occupy 0.5 acres of parcel 1. Also as of the vesting date, soil remediation work was ongoing at the property, which was expected to continue for approximately four years after the vesting date.

In August 2006, the claimants filed a claim for just compensation, seeking, inter alia, direct damages for the loss of parcel 1. At a nonjury trial on the issue of compensation, the claimants' expert appraiser opined that the "highest and best use" of the property was for a large-scale retail development. Based on that proposed use and a comparison to other properties sold for retail development, the claimants' expert opined that the direct damages to parcel 1, based on its fair market value, amounted to the sum of $19,450,000. By contrast, the Town's expert appraiser opined that the highest and best use of parcels 1 and 2 was for light industrial development. That expert opined, inter alia, that the fair market value of parcel 1 for light industrial use was $3,270,000.

The Supreme Court accepted the claimants' valuation of the subject property for retail use. In a judgment dated June 30, 2016, the court awarded damages to the claimants in the principal sum of $20,700,000, including direct damages for the loss of parcel 1 in the sum of $19,450,000.

On a prior appeal by the Town, this Court determined that the Supreme Court erred in determining that the highest and best use of parcel 1 on the date of the taking was retail use (see Matter of Town of Oyster Bay [55 Motor Ave. Co., LLC], 156 A.D.3d 704, 707, 67 N.Y.S.3d 221 ). Consequently, this Court reversed the judgment and remitted the matter to the Supreme Court, Nassau County, to determine, inter alia, "based upon the evidence offered by the Town, the fair market value of parcel 1 with a highest and best use of light industrial development, considering such adjustments as the evidence will support" ( id. at 709, 67 N.Y.S.3d 221 ).

Upon remittal, the parties submitted proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law. The Supreme Court adopted the claimants' conclusion that the value of parcel 1 was $9,732,498, which was premised on certain comparable sales relied upon by the claimants' expert to value the subject property for retail use. Thereupon, the court rendered a judgment entered March 5, 2019, awarding the claimants the principal sum of $9,732,498 as just compensation for the taking of parcel 1.

"In condemnation cases, the authority of this Court to review findings of fact after a nonjury trial is as broad as that of the trial court" ( Matter of Mazur Bros., Inc. v. State of New York, 97 A.D.3d 826, 828, 949 N.Y.S.2d 160 ), and this Court " ‘may render the judgment it finds warranted by the facts, taking into account that in a close case the trial court had the advantage of seeing and hearing the witnesses’ " ( id. at 828, 949 N.Y.S.2d 160, quoting BRK Props., Inc. v. Wagner Ziv Plumbing & Heating Corp., 89 A.D.3d 883, 884, 933 N.Y.S.2d 99 ).

Here, the Supreme Court failed to adhere to the terms of this Court's remittal by relying on the claimants' evidence of comparable sales of properties for retail use. As this Court determined on the prior appeal, the Supreme Court was required, upon remittal, to determine the fair market value of parcel 1 based upon evidence offered by the Town as to the highest and best use of light industrial development, considering such adjustments as the evidence will support (see Matter of Town of Oyster Bay [55 Motor Ave. Co., LLC], 156 A.D.3d at 709, 67 N.Y.S.3d 221 ). Thus, the court's valuation, upon remittal, should have been premised upon the conclusions of the Town's...

To continue reading

Request your trial
6 cases
  • Elpa Builders, Inc. v. State
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court — Appellate Division
    • 14 Julio 2021
    ...State of New York, 97 A.D.3d at 828, 949 N.Y.S.2d 160 [internal quotation marks omitted]; see Matter of Town of Oyster Bay v. 55 Motor Ave. Co., LLC, 187 A.D.3d 760, 761–762, 133 N.Y.S.3d 578 ). " ‘[W]here the trial court's explanation of its award is supported by the evidence, it is entitl......
  • Chynn v. Cnty. of Suffolk
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court — Appellate Division
    • 20 Abril 2022
    ...Props., Inc. v. Wagner Ziv Plumbing & Heating Corp., 89 A.D.3d 883, 884, 933 N.Y.S.2d 99 ; see Matter of Town of Oyster Bay v. 55 Motor Ave. Co., LLC, 187 A.D.3d 760, 761–762, 133 N.Y.S.3d 578 ). "The measure of damages in a condemnation case ‘must reflect the fair market value of the prope......
  • Elpa Builders, Inc. v. State
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court
    • 14 Julio 2021
    ... ... [internal quotation marks omitted]; see Matter of Town of ... Oyster Bay v 55 Motor Ave. Co., LLC, 187 ... ...
  • Chynn v. Cnty. of Suffolk
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court
    • 20 Abril 2022
    ... ... 89 A.D.3d 883, 884; see Matter of Town of Oyster Bay v 55 ... Motor Ave. Co., LLC, 187 ... ...
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT