Town will use eminent domain for Canal road
By Kimberly A. Michalak
In order to ensure that the current Erie Canal Towpath will not be bought back by the State, because it is currently being used illegally, the Camillus Town Board has made the decision to acquire lands along the Erie Canal by eminent domain. This decision was announced at the May 22 town board meeting.
The purpose of the project is to provide a public highway for access to six parcels of land, which are otherwise landlocked and do not have legally enforceable access.
The new road will also provide public access to the abandoned Erie Canal lands owned by the town, which extends from Newport Road (westerly) to the town line.
According to the board the benefited lands will become marketable, economically viable and will increase in value, adding value to the town's tax base.
As far as safety, this project will segregate vehicular traffic from the Canal Way Trail for bicyclists and pedestrians. Currently the Towpath has been improperly used to access the landlocked parcels. The new road will completely eliminate the present unsafe conflict between those uses.
The location of the new road, which will be parallel to the Towpath, is the most direct and inexpensive way to solve the problem.
A wetland permit from the DEC is necessary for this project because construction will take place within 100 feet of wetlands.
The town has applied for this permit.
On Jan. 23, 2006 the town began an environmental review as the lead agency on the project and concluded the following: Because .42 acres of wetlands will be permanently impacted, a wetland mitigation plan will be completed in order to restore more wetland acreage than what is being impacted. Powers and Jeremy, an archeological firm, discovered two historic residential foundations along the Towpath. These structures will be impacted by the current road design layout. The State Historic Preservation Office will detail proper mitigation regarding the historic foundations located within the project corridor which the town will implement. Finally, because the Indiana bat is known to roost within two miles from the project area, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service has stated that the appropriate mitigation to conter possible Indiana bat impacts is to follow the seasonal cutting restrictions of Oct. 1 to March 31, which the Town will also comply with.
On April 24, approximately 75 people attended a public hearing on this matter. The following owners of parcels subject to eminent domain were in attendance: Peter Rinaldi, Gregory Rinaldi, Phillip Rinaldi, Patrick Ann Grell, Kristina Brassie, Paul Simko, Jr. Rudy Karasek and Joseph Buffa.
Of the landowners present, only the Rinaldis spoke in opposition. No significant adverse impacts to the neighborhood were identified at the hearing.