The government has recently stipulated to its liability for taking a number of properties in this case. For these properties, the government agreed that under New York law, the original railroad only acquired a limited easement to run trains over the railroad right-of-way. When the railroad abandoned its right-of-way and stopped running trains, the easement was then extinguished. The landowners owning the land under the right-of-way should have regained their land free and clear of any easements. But, on November 4, 2008, the federal government issued an order which prevented this from happening. The government’s order allowed for the railroad to convey its railroad easement to a trail group (the NY DNR in this case). The DNR plans to build a public-recreational trail on this right-of-way and the federal government will preserve it for future railroad use.
This rail-trail conversion is a Fifth Amendment “taking” of your property. And, under the Fifth Amendment, the landowners are entitled to be paid their “just compensation” for this property. The government has agreed to pay this group of landowners their just compensation. The parties expect to move into the appraisal stage of determining this “just compensation” this summer.
The landowners have a limited period of time to add in any additional landowners who would also like to receive their payment for just compensation. To learn more, contact Lindsay Brinton at 314.296.4000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.