Spring Valley estimates it will pay about $450,000 to settle eminent domain suits: White Plains NY Journal News, 3/21/07

By Christina Jeng

The village [of Spring Valley NY] estimates it will spend $450,000 to settle lawsuits on property it acquired through eminent domain.

Seven property owners are claiming the village did not pay fair-market value for the properties, all on Main Street. In most cases, they are asking for a little less than double what the village paid, Village Attorney Bruce Levine said.

"They have every right to challenge it," he said of the owners. "The issue is, of course, what the right value is.

"Some of the owners believe the value should be very considerably higher," he said.

In all, Spring Valley has spent $2.9 million to acquire property. The parcels being litigated are between Grove Street and Lawler Boulevard on Main Street.

Levine said the parcels were purchased as part of Spring Valley's urban renewal plans. The village wants affordable family and senior housing built there. The goal is to bring people into the downtown area, which would spur economic development and, ultimately, urban renewal.

The lawsuits will be litigated in the next six to 12 months, Levine said.

Spring Valley Mayor George Darden said the lawsuits did not come as a surprise.

"When you do eminent domain, people are always going to say it's worth more," he said. "Now that we're taking it, it's the most expensive property as if it were in Hollywood."

In 2005, the village paid a range of $110,000 to $460,000 to acquire the properties. Former owners now say they want about $230,000 to $900,000.

In some cases, Levine said, the owners claimed the properties were comparable to Suffern places and prices.

"That's not a good comparison," Levine said. "Spring Valley certainly is and was a blighted community. That's why we're doing urban renewal."

Ronel LeCorps was the owner of 78 N. Main St., a two-story building in which he operated his accounting firm. He also rented space to a computer school, he said.

LeCorps said in 2005 that he was not willing to sell the property for what the village had paid. Still, Spring Valley acquired the property through eminent domain for $110,000. LeCorps is asking for $230,000.

"My lawyer is still fighting for me to get a reasonable price," he said. "They took it. I wasn't willing to sell."

White Plains NY Journal News: http://www.thejournalnews.com