New York eminent domain law is in need of reform. Between
vague statutory terms and the limited review provided by the
Eminent Domain Procedure Law (EDPL), New York law, as
currently written and interpreted, enables the execution of policy not authorized by law, and encourages the fabrication of
pretextual purposes to evade public accountability. In this
article, we look at the traditional public purpose of redeveloping
blighted areas, and the latitude that is created by the interaction
of authorizing statutes and limited judicial review to use blight
removal as a pretext for private purposes, and thereby evade
constitutional safeguards and public accountability. As a result,
effective legal control over the exercise of eminent domain is
frustrated; communities and businesses are made vulnerable to
any well connected developer interested in taking over the land.
Therefore, confidence in government is eroded, as secret and
deceptive policy decisions result in the appearance, if not the
actuality, of impermissible favoritism and pretext.