Tonight, just a month after the public hearing, the Prattsburgh Town Board voted to continue on with eminent domain. We do not know the wording of the resolution and we don’t know what their “findings” are. Chuck Schick asked Harold to recuse himself from voting because of his professional (real estate) connection with First Wind/UPC, and John Leyden, town attorney, spoke for Harold and said that Harold would see how the vote went. Stacy Battoni and Sharon Quigley voted in favor while Chuck Schick and Steve Kula voted against. Harold then broke the tie by voting in favor of the resolution. The issue, however, is not nearly resolved because July 1 there will be a motion in Bath to throw out Harold’s vote due to conflict of interest. And, should it be necessary, three of the “condemned” are prepared to appeal.
According to what I understand of eminent domain law, at this time the Board is supposed to publish their findings in the newspaper, they are supposed to make an earnest effort to obtain the desired easements and if they are unsuccessful then they will go before a judge to get permission to condemn the property. Once they serve condemnation papers on the landowners, the landowners have 30 days to appeal the condemnations. Judith Dudley, one of the “condemnees” was present for the meeting.
The vote came after nearly a two hour executive session to which the school boards of Naples and Prattsburgh were invited, along with UPC officials, in an attempt to work out the PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) disagreements that have led to two lawsuits against the town. According to John Leyden, no settlement was reached other than an agreement to meet again.
During the executive session, thirty or more people who are opposed to the eminent domain issue waited outside. The “other side” had asked school kids to carry signs and make a lot of noise. The kids were fed pizza for their trouble. Very few landowners or residents in favor of the project showed up.
We will provide more details in the next few days. Please remember to check advocatesforprattsburgh.org frequently for updates.
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