Developer asks Auburn to use eminent domain (to illegally steal private citizen's property)

Mar. 28, 2010

Auburn (WSYR-TV) - A hotel developer has asked the Auburn Industrial Development Agency to use eminent domain to free up property for it to build on.

The Pioneer Company has offered to buyout a handful of business owners along the stretch of road they want but the owners aren't interested in selling and they're hoping the city won't make them.

Renee Ward has been a dog groomer in the area for more than twenty years.

After renting for all that time, she bought her building back in 2007. She spent months renovating it and almost as soon as she opened for business, she got an offer from a hotel developer who wanted to buy her out. "It was extremely insulting considering we had a lot more into the building, into the business, into the property than actually what they could consider offering us, so yes it was an insult."

Mike Kazanivsky plans to put in mini golf and build an ice cream stand on the land he owns nearby. He's now received two offers to sell. "I've had these plans, this is my livelihood, I want people to enjoy it with me, I never bought this to sell this ever."

The owners of a nearby Chinese restaurant also denied the developers offer. So now the Pioneer Company wants the Auburn Industrial Development Agency to take all three properties through eminent domain.

The hotel would be the first part of the city's bigger plan to make this part of a downtown theater district. AIDA says this project has been in the works for a very long time and a downtown hotel is a crucial part of it but they do want to make sure the business owners are compensated fairly. So before they consider eminent domain, they want Pioneer to get the properties appraised and try to reach a deal.

Ward, and her neighbors, say they don't want to move. "I can't, I can't imagine moving somewhere else."

There will be a public hearing on the use of eminent domain for this project on Monday at 5:00 p.m. at Auburn City Hall.

For more information on the plans for that entire block:

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