WEST NYACK A local builder’s hope to one day develop his property is in jeopardy as Clarkstown wants to condemn it for flood mitigation.
James Owens with J. Owens Building said he has been waiting for the right opportunity to develop his 3.7 acre lot that he purchased in 1986.
But after 28 years of waiting, his property on Sickletown Road may be taken away from him for what the town believes a public purpose, which triggers the eminent domain powers of the government.
The eminent domain case involving Owen’s property is before the state Supreme Court Appellate Division Second Department.
Residents and business owners in West Nyack have suffered multiple flooding incidents over the years. In August 2011, Tropical Storm Irene hit the area, inundating homes and businesses, including the West Nyack Post Office on West Nyack Road.
Owen said when Deputy Town Attorney Paul Schofield asked him to sell the property last spring, he told Schofield that the property was not for sale.
Then in January, Owen received an official notice from the town, stating its intention to use eminent domain to take two thirds of his property, or about 2.6 acres of his property.
Dennis Lynch, Owen’s attorney, argued in his court document that Clarkstown already owns enough land in the area to accomplish its flood mitigation goal. The town’s attempt to take Owen’s property is excessive, he stated.
Schofield, however, said the town’s project engineer recommends otherwise.
“We’re going to use it for drainage and storm water management improvement in connection with the West Nyack downtown revitalization project,” Schofield said, noting that the state grant money would not be used to take over the property.
(Photo: U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey spoke in March alongside Clarkstown Supervisor Alex Gromack, left, Town Board members Shirley Lasker and Stephanie Hausner, Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski (behind Lowey) and state Sen. David Carlucci. The officials gathered at West Nyack’s green to celebrate a total of $9.8 million in funding — including the $1 million grant for West Nyack flood mitigation — awarded for the Town of Clarkstown. Akiko Matsuda /The Journal News)