Shapiro Arato Asks The New York Court of Appeals to Hear an Important Case about Federal Takings Law

On September 24, 2018, Shapiro Arato filed a motion for leave to appeal to the New York Court of Appeals on behalf of Stahl York Avenue Co., LLC as part of its ongoing challenge to the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission’s decision to designate two Stahl-owned apartment buildings as landmarks.  The landmark designation violated the City’s longstanding promise to permit redevelopment of the buildings and deprived the buildings of virtually all economic value.  The City also denied Stahl’s request for relief under the Landmark Law’s hardship provisions.

Stahl filed a hybrid Article 78 proceeding and plenary action in New York Supreme Court challenging the City’s treatment of the buildings and alleging an unconstitutional taking.  The trial court dismissed these claims, and the First Department affirmed.  Stahl now appeals the First Department’s decision to the New York Court of Appeals and, in the alternative, seeks leave to appeal.

This appeal raises at least two significant issues.  First, in Murr v. Wisconsin, 137 S. Ct. 1933 (2017), the U.S. Supreme Court established a new test for determining the relevant parcel of land in a takings case.  In applying Murr, the First Department disregarded critical aspects of this test, tipping the balance in favor of regulators and undermining constitutionally-protected property rights.  Second, in adjudicating the takings claims, the First Department improperly deferred to an administrative agency’s findings and relied solely on the administrative record even though plaintiffs in takings cases are entitled to develop the facts in a judicial proceeding, and administrative agencies should not be permitted to decide whether their own actions are constitutional.

Alexandra A.E. Shapiro, Eric Olney, and Philip Young authored the motion for leave to appeal to the Court of Appeals, a copy of which is available here.

The New York Law Journal recently published an article about the case with commentary from Alexandra A.E. Shapiro, a copy of which is available here.