More than 150 landowners in Erie and Cattaraugus Counties, New York have filed their inverse condemnation claims against the federal government. These landowners own land abutting a 27.6-mile right-of-way extending from Orchard Park to Ashford, New York.
The Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh Railroad originally acquired this rail line in the early 1900s. The railroad was subsequently acquired by Buffalo & Pittsburgh Railroad, Inc. in 1988.
By 1994, the Buffalo & Pittsburgh Railroad stopped using the line for railroad purposes. Under New York law, once the Railroad abandoned the line, the landowners (and their successors) should have owned their land free and clear of any easements.
On November 4, 2008, the federal Surface Transportation Board issued an order (the Notice of Interim Trail Use or Abandonment, or NITU), which authorized the Railroad to negotiate with a trail operator for trail use. This federal order — the NITU — prevented the landowners from regaining their state law rights to the land. And instead, the federal order allowed two new easements to be imposed on the property — one for recreational trail use and another for future railroad use at anytime in the future.
The New York landowners filed their claims for compensation on October 10, 2013 (Deck) and January 15, 2014 (White). The landowners now have a limited period to join any other neighboring landowners who wish to vindicate their constitution rights to just compensation for the government’s taking of their property. Counsel for the landowners continues to meet with all interested Erie and Cattaraugus County landowners to discuss their claims for compensation in this case.
For more information about this case, please contact Lindsay Brinton.