When zoning, wetlands, or other governmental restrictions go too far, so as to amount to a “regulatory taking,” the last line of protection can often be constitutional damages actions known as “takings” or “inverse condemnation” claims (based on the “just compensation” clauses of the Federal and State constitutions) and “1983” actions (named after the Federal statute, 42 U.S.C. § 1983). EHA attorneys have developed a unique knowledge of the difficult and complex road through such proceedings and have successfully obtained both judgments and settlements on behalf of affected landowners.
In one case, EHA brought a series of proceedings against the State of New York and its Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) on behalf of an owner of property in Southampton Village in the State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, and Court of Claims. EHA argued that the denial of a wetland permit to build a single home on the property constituted a “taking” that required the State to pay the owner just compensation. The proceedings resulted in the only reported case of the New York appeal court upholding a “takings” trial judgment involving the State’s wetland code, which has been in existence for more than 30 years. The decision upholding the verdict (3 A.D.3d 86) is a leading opinion establishing the elements of proof in a regulatory taking case in New York, under both the Federal and State Constitutions. When the proceedings reached the damages stage, a subsequent opinion (52 A.D.3d 774) established the proper date for determining the valuation of the property. The result of these complex proceedings was a multi-million-dollar recovery for the property owner.