Jan. 21, 2009: Read Margaretville info for yourself

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To The Editor:
As a trustee for the Village of Margaretville, I have sensed that many people have had a clouded perception of our actions surrounding the Eminent Domain Proceedings against Davis Holding Company, LLC. Please note that our actions were initiated after several failed attempts to negotiate long-term access for the village with Davis Holding Company, LLC, to the bulkhead structure and the Binnekill stream, two structures in which the village has records of ownership and maintenance for over 100 years. Thereby, a motion was made, and unanimously agreed upon by the village board to begin Eminent Domain Proceedings against Davis Holding Company, LLC, to condemn in fee title the land necessary to access said structures, such that the village could continue repair and maintenance protocols on their structures without interference from agents of the Davis Holding Company, LLC.
The village was challenged by Davis Holding Company, LLC, as allowed under Article 2, Section 207, of the Eminent Domain Procedure Law, and a judicial review was conducted by the State of New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Judicial Department, to confirm or reject the Village of Margaretville’s determination and findings of fact. The scope of the judicial review was limited to whether:
(1) the village’s proceeding was constitutional,
(2) the acquisition was within the village’s statutory authority,
(3) the determination was made in accordance with the statutory procedures,
(4) and whether a public use, benefit or purpose will be served by the proposed acquisition.
All of the aforementioned arguments that came before the courts for review were decided in favor of the village, with an exception on page 5 of the decision, in which the courts determined that the village taking the land in fee (i.e. full ownership) was excessive. The decision was modified, and limited the village’s use of power of eminent domain to the condemnation of an easement for access, in lieu of full ownership, to the Binnekill and bulkhead.
Lauren Davis, an agent of Davis Holding Company, LLC, provided a premature and skewed interpretation of the results of the judicial review, conducted by the State of New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Judicial Department, to the Catskill Mountain News and I feel that residents developed false perceptions of the actions of the village board based on Mr. Davis’s misleading interpretation. I can assure you that the village has acted ethically and conformed to all the precedents set forth in the Eminent Domain Procedure Law and the decision made by the State of New York, Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Judicial Department, decided and entered : October 23, 2008, #504497.
Please feel free to review the Eminent Domain Procedure Law, Article 2, Section 207, online at
http://public.leginfo.state.ny.us/menugetf.cgi?COMMONQUERY=LAWS , or to review the decision made by the State of New York, Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Judicial Department at (http://www.courts.state.ny.us/ad3/), case number #504497, to be able to read for yourself the full text and decision by this court.

John W. Van Benschoten,
Trustee, Deputy Mayor
Village of Margaretville