Crowd gathers in Auburn to rally against eminent domain

By: The Citizen staff report
Auburn Pub
Apr. 04, 2010

Laurel Auchampaugh and her dog Bear, of Owasco, lead a group of protesters past the Rondina Building, one of the sites that could be turned into a hotel. (Chet Susslin / The Citizen)

AUBURN -- Almost 200 people visited downtown Auburn Saturday for a rally protesting the possible use of eminent domain by the Auburn Industrial Development Authority. A private developer is asking the authority board to help secure the properties at the corner of State and Water streets for a proposed 88-room hotel.

Renee and Doug Ward, who own the property where Renee's dog gooming business is located on the proposal site, organized the rally with the help of a few others

Participants gathered on State Street at 1 p.m. and walked to Memorial City Hall, where they stood on the front steps and said the Pledge of Allegiance. Many hoisted signs with sayings such as "Eminent Domain is Political Stealing" and "Eminent domain could happen to you."

Organizers asked participants to sign a petition calling on AIDA to take eminent domain out of the hotel proposal. The petition also asked for a second public hearing so more members of the public can voice their opinions.

Doug Ward said before the rally that he's not against a hotel or any economic development proposed for the city.

"The spirit of this (rally) is we don't want eminent domain for private use," Ward said.

The $11 million hotel plan proposes an 88-room Hilton Garden on State Street between the two Arterial routes. Syracuse developer Pioneer Companies approached the four propery owners on that location with offers, and only one -- the owners of the former T & K Hardware -- agreed to sell.

Pioneer is now asking AIDA to consider using eminent domain to force the sale of the three properties at fair market value. The developer is also asking for a number of other tax incentives from the authority.

For more coverage of Saturday's rally, see Sunday's edition of The Citizen.

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