Allegany County Development officials announced plans to facilitate building a half billion dollar manufacturing project by Great Lakes Cheese in Amity, near the Interstate 86 Belvidere exit. The development could create over two hundred jobs in the county, but the current landowner, a dairy farmer, plans to resist. The Allegany County Industrial Development Agency has filed for eminent domain to force the sale of the property.
As the project stands today, MarshAcres LLC would be forced to relinquish ownership of prime farmland under eminent domain actions. Eminent domain is a legal procedure where the government can force the sale of land to a private firm or local government. This action is typically taken when a greater public interest is at stake, for example a public works project or new highway. In this case, eminent domain is being justified due to the large number of jobs the project could create.
Charlie Bares, owner of MarshAcres LLC, isn’t going along with the project for some very principled reasons. Preserving prime farmland is a priority for Bares, noting the environmental costs of a dairy product manufacturing facility are too great. Access to quality farmland is a major issue for farms like MarshAcres as development lands where corn once grew.
Allegany County resident Roy D. Bielewicz wrote a scathing opinion piece in a recent issue of the Cuba Patriot, summing up his support for MarshAcres and opposition to this use of eminent domain:
“The force selling of private property to another private entity is not only perverse, but immoral”
Stay tuned for updates on this developing story.