Church Condemned; Has No Right to Appeal

By National Center for Public Policy Research | July 7, 2008 | 8:21pm EDT

(Editor's Note: The following is the 12th of 100 stories regarding government regulation from the book Shattered Dreams, written by the National Center for Public Policy Research. will publish an additional story each day.)

St. Luke's Church in North Hempstead, N.Y., provides more than church services to the community. The church also helps members of the community with heating oil, rent money and drug counseling.

Unfortunately for the church and those it serves, however, the North Hempstead Community Development Agency (NHCDA) thinks its definition of urban renewal can do more for the community than can St. Luke's. The NHCDA has decided to condemn the property on which the church stands for an urban renewal project, although the NHCDA's specific plans are still - to this point - unknown.

The trouble started in 1994, three years before St. Luke's bought its property in 1997 on Prospect Avenue. This is when the NHCDA added the land to the area's redevelopment plan, which made the property eligible for condemnation by the government under its power of eminent domain.

New York law does not require that the titles to properties state if land has been so designated. The previous owner mentioned nothing, and the title said nothing, so the church was unaware of the designation when it bought the property.

In 2000, the NHCDA decided it was going to take the church's land through the power of eminent domain. Unfortunately, the church had lost the right to appeal the condemnation in 1994 - before it bought the property.

Currently, church members - and others in the community who appreciate St. Luke's good works - are awaiting the NHCDA's specific plans.

Copyright 2003, National Center for Public Policy Research

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