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UNITED STATES v. 0.886 OF AN ACRE OF LAND IN FARMI

May 14, 1946

UNITED STATES
v.
0.886 OF AN ACRE OF LAND IN VILLAGE OF FARMINGDALE, TOWN OF BABYLON, SUFFOLK COUNTY, N.Y



The opinion of the court was delivered by: INCH

This is a condemnation proceeding instituted by the United States of America on the findings of the Secretary of the Navy that the land embraced in the proceeding was necessary to be acquired for Naval purposes.

The object of the proceeding was to acquire the fee simple title to 0.886 of an acre to be used for the erection thereon of an extension to the then existing factory of the Ranger Aircraft Division of Fairchild Engine and Airplane Corporation, which corporation was manufacturing aeroplane motors for the United States Navy Department.

 This piece of land so acquired was a part of a public road known as Conklin Street, Suffolk County, Long Island, New York, more precisely in the hamlet of East Farmingdale, Town of Babylon, in said county.

 The petition in condemnation was filed on May 11, 1942, and an order of immediate possession was executed by this court the same day. Thereafter the construction of the necessary building was proceeded with and completely closed off this portion of Conklin Street. The land in question is owned by the Town of Babylon, a duly constituted and existing Municipal Corporation of the State of New York and this owner is the sole claimant in this proceeding, being the sole and only fee simple owner of said land.

 Conklin Street, prior to its closing as above, ran directly along the south side of the Main Line of the Long Island Railroad Company and was a through east-west route between the Jerico Turnpike to the north and the Sunrise Highway and Montauk Highway to the south. In the vicinity are a number of cemeteries of various religious denominations and a United States National Cemetery.

 While this court, at the trial, allowed representatives of some of these cemeteries to be heard as to alleged inconvenience caused by the closing of this portion of Conklin Street, they were not considered, nor in fact could be, claimants or proper parties to the proceeding. The information given was considered helpful on another portion of the issue.

 The sole question to be determined is the question of compensation, if any, to be paid to the owner of the land taken, to wit, the Town of Babylon. Before discussing the evidence, the law applicable to the situation presented will be considered.

 First, 'the federal government's power of eminent domain -- necessarily implied as an efficient and appropriate means of exercising other powers expressly given -- is to be used subject to the broad limitations of the Fifth Amendment. It is a stranger to the town. It can no more take, without compensation, their property rights, than it can those of an individual.' Town of Bedford v. United States, 1 Cir., 23 F.2d 453, 457, 56 A.L.R. 360.

 On the other hand, the test of the measure of damages is not what the state or town or property would like to get or even what might be more desirable, but rather what is reasonable and fair under all the circumstances. United States v. Alderson, D.C., 53 F.Supp. 528.

 'The quasi corporation such as a city or county holds such property (public highways and roads), by delegation of general sovereign power, authority for its acquisition and control being governmental and the interest exclusively that of the public. * * * thus when such property is taken by the power of the Federal Government, just compensation cannot be measured by the same standards as compensation for the taking of purely private property. Those who use the highways of the county have no proprietary interest in them. The county is responsible for their construction, maintenance, preservation and protection. * * * ' Jefferson County, etc., v. Tennessee Valley Authority, 6 Cir., 146 F.2d 564, 565.

 The argument that the true measure of just compensation as a road or highway is the cost of restoring the property to the same condition after the taking, as it was before, is untenable.

 'The practicable view is to consider the road and highway needs of the civil division affected by the taking and to allow the governmental unit such sum in damages as will pay the cost of road facilities equal in utility to those destroyed. * * * The constitutional phrase 'just compensation' means a full and perfect equivalent for the property taken'. Jefferson County, etc., v. Tennessee Valley Authority, 6 Cir., 146 F.2d 564.

 'We do not suggest that the city's damages upon the condemnation of its interest in a street must always be limited to a nominal amount. Frequently it occurs that the taking of a street causes substantial loss for which the city must be compensated. This happens when the municipality is required to establish and improve another street in place of the one condemned * * * . In such cases the measure of compensation is the cost of supplying the substitute' (Cases cited). Mayor, etc., v. United States, 4 Cir., 147 F.2d 786, 790.

 Apparently there were three questions before the court in awarding compensation: (1) the value of the land taken. (2) The cost of providing a reasonably adequate substitute road. (3) Nominal damages. United States v. Des Moines County, ...


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