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The Village of Wellsville plans to use eminent domain to purchase Municipal Parking Lot

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Mayor Shayler: This lot is critical infrastructure for the village of Wellsville

By Andrew Harris

After months of haggling and failed negotiations: The Village of Wellsville has announced it will begin the process of using eminent domain powers to force the sale of about one-third of the “municipal parking lot.”

What is eminent domain in a nutshell? Wikipedia explains it best:

Eminent Domain is the power of a state, provincial, or national government to take private property for public use. It does not include the power to take and transfer ownership of private property from one property owner to another private property owner without a valid public purpose.

The Village of Wellsville appears prepared to use this power in order to purchase a portion of the parking lot considering it “critical infrastructure.”

Parking lots can be a big deal

The lot was purchased by Iris and William LLC in 2022 as part of the “Rockwell’s” building on Main Street Wellsville. The building has a classic storefront on Main Street Wellsville. Behind the building is a typical loading dock area, and also roughly one-third of the municipal parking lot. Prior to the purchase of the property by Iris and William LLC, most of those spots were considered public parking.

At the village board meeting on Monday September 11, the board voted to take the first step and hold a public hearing on the action as required by law. The village of Wellsville has retained the services of the legal firm Hodgson Russ LLP of Buffalo NY to oversee the process of using eminent domain to force the sale at a value determined by a court.

The village has already hired a professional real estate appraiser to determine “fair market value,” the standard for most eminent domain actions. While the village can take the property by legal action, the village still must fully compensate the property owner.

When a purchase offer of $32,000 was presented to owner, Iris and William LLC. The managing owner, Tarek Otero,. did not reply to the offer and simply told the Wellsville Sun at the time: “The lot is not for sale.”

At that point the village of Wellsville began exploring the eminent domain route to force the sale of the property.

Since that failed negotiation, the village has been mum and the parking lot owner installed barricades before beginning to advertising storage units would be available on that space. Last week those storage units started to arrive on the property although it is unclear if they have been rented out to customers.

Tonight, Mayor Shayler requested acceptance and approval the following:

Resolution Calling for a Public Hearing on the Possible Acquisition By Eminent Domain of a portion of 86 North Main Street  SBL No. 239.37-1-41, in the Village of Wellsville

Read that full resolution here:

The village board voted to a hold a public hearing at 5:30 p.m. on October 9, 2023 at the Wellsville Municipal Building, 23 North Main Street, Wellsville, NY 14895. The vote was unanimous.

Stay tuned for more updates on that meeting and location as it will likely be very well attended.

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