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In re Application of City of New York

Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division

March 3, 1911

In the Matter of the Application of the CITY OF NEW YORK, Acting by and through the Commissioner of Docks, Respondent, Relative to Acquiring Right and Title to, and Possession of, Certain Lands, etc., for the Improvement of the Water Front of the City of New York for Ferry Purposes, Between the Southerly Line of Thirty-eighth Street, Prolonged, the Southerly Line of Thirty-ninth Street, Prolonged, the Westerly Line of Second Avenue and the Pierhead Line Established by the Secretary of War in 1890, in the Borough of Brooklyn, in the City of New York, etc. H. W. JOHNS-MANVILLE COMPANY and Others, Appellants.

Page 516

APPEAL by H. W. Johns-Manville Company and others, claimants, from parts of an order of the Supreme Court, made at the Kings County Special Term and entered in the office of the clerk of the county of Kings on the 25th day of May, 1910, confirming the report of commissioners of estimate and assessment herein, with notice of an intention on the part of certain of said appellants to bring up for review an interlocutory order entered on the 16th day of May, 1907.


William H. Harris [Fancher Nicoll with him on the brief], for the appellants Johns-Manville Company and Nelsons.

Edward W. Hatch [Charles L. Woody and George D. Yeomans with him on the brief], for the appellant Nassau Electric Railroad Company.

John B. Shanahan [James D. Bell and Archibald R. Watson with him on the brief], for the respondent.


The commissioners in this proceeding were appointed on the 8th day of June, 1906, upon the petition of the city of New York to acquire for ferry purposes all the land between the southerly line of Thirty-ninth street and the southerly line of Thirty-eighth street and the westerly line of Second avenue and the pierhead line established by the Secretary of War in 1890, being 2,452 feet long and 264 feet wide, in the borough of Brooklyn. The land taken from the defendant, the Nassau Electric Railroad Company, one of the appellants, consists of a strip of land under water 30 feet in width and 147 feet

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long, being a part of a tract of land used by the said defendant for the purpose of a power house. This is a 60,000 horse-power plant, consuming large quantities of water and coal, and the commissioners have awarded for the loss and damage to this parcel, stated as a single item, the sum of $27,110.58. It is claimed on the part of the Nassau Electric Railroad Company that the award made by the commissioners was not the amount required to be made the claimant under the provisions of section 822 of the Greater New York charter (Laws of 1901, chap. 466, as amd. by Laws of 1903, chap. 624), which provides as follows: '§ 822. * * * If the property of the riparian proprietor has been built upon or improved, and if such buildings or improvements are upon a single tract contiguous to or adjoining lands under water, or which were originally under water, and used in connection therewith, and part only of such property is proposed to be taken, the fair and just value of the entire premises shall first be ascertained, and then there shall be ascertained the like value of the premises in the condition in which they will be after the part is taken, and the difference in value, be it more or less than the separate value of the part taken, shall constitute the measure of compensation.'

The commissioners, in a memorandum, say that 'In estimating the damage resulting to parcels 2, 4 and 5, by reason of the taking of the thirty-foot strip from the northerly side, the Commissioners have regarded and considered said parcels as improved real estate consisting of lands and buildings, and the uses to which they were applied at the time of taking.' It was held in Matter of City of New York (190 N.Y. 350) that section 822 of the Greater New York charter was unconstitutional, because it permitted benefits to be offset against the value of the portion of property taken for public purposes, but the appellant does not raise this question, urging, on the contrary, that the commissioners have failed to make the award in harmony with this provision of the statute, and that the city, having elected to take advantage of the privileges of the statute, is not entitled to question the validity of the act. Taking the view that the commissioners have sought to comply with the provisions of the statute, we are of the opinion that they have overlooked some of the elements which should have entered into the calculation. If the damages to the property were to be considered,

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it should have taken into consideration the fact that the Nassau Electric Railroad Company had improved this property for a special purpose; for a purpose for which it was specially adapted. It was necessary, for instance, to the economical operation of the plant that it should have an absolute right to have its coal delivered direct from the water side. This right it had under its deeds on the Thirty-ninth street side of its power house, and it did not have such right on the Fortieth street side of its property, and the contention of the city of New York that the defendant has such access on the Fortieth street side, because there is now an open waterway, does not meet the requirements, for this open way is concededly liable to be closed up by the owners of the fee at any time, while the additional burden to be placed upon the Fortieth street slip by reason of the closing of the Thirty-ninth street slip by the construction of the proposed ferry, will materially interfere with the use by the defendant of the Fortieth street approach to its premises, which abut on both streets or ways. Moreover, while we do not think there is justification for believing that the power house will have to be abandoned, or that the machinery will necessarily go into the junk heap, we are of the opinion that the changes necessary to be made to give the defendant absolute control of its power plant, with rights of access and of an opportunity to perform all of its functions and operations upon its own premises, should be taken into account, to the end that the defendant shall be placed in the same relative position that it occupied when this proceeding was instituted. 'The paramount law intends,' says Lewis on Eminent Domain (3d ed. § 686) 'that such owner, so far as that lot is in question, shall be put in as good a condition, pecuniarily, by a just compensation, as he would have been in if that lot of land had remained entire, as his own property. How much less is that lot and its erections, thereon remaining, worth to the owner, as property to be used or leased or sold the day after the part was taken, to be used for the purpose designed, than the whole lot intact was the day before such taking? In considering damages to the remainder, however, the whole remainder must be taken into account. If a part is damaged and part benefited, the question will be whether the whole is worth less than before the taking.' It appears in the record without dispute that

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this is a highly desirable location for a power house, such as the defendant is maintaining; the defendant has a right to the premises for their highest utility, and just compensation requires that it be compensated for the full value of the land actually taken, without reference to the benefits which may accrue from the use to which it is to be put, and that the damages to the remaining portion of the plot shall be fully paid, taking into consideration any benefit that may be fairly expected to flow to the remainder from the use to which the premises taken are to be subjected. If the defendant is cut off from the waterway on the Thirty-ninth street side it is entitled to the value of that waterway right, even though it has another water right on the Fortieth street side. If it has no water right on the Fortieth street side, or if that right is subject to limitations, this fact is important in arriving at the remaining value of the premises, and it should be fully considered. If the destruction of the waterway is such as to deprive the defendant of the use of its property at its ...

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