For more than 10 years, the town of Camillus has worked to figure out the best possible solution in order to build a road for commercial travel that parallels the Erie Canal Towpath. Currently the towpath, which is only supposed to be used by walkers and bicyclists, is being used for commercial travel by two businesses and several residents. The only way these businesses and individuals can access their property is by using the towpath. If something is not done soon, the state could take the land that is now the towpath back, because it is being used improperly.
The Camillus town board held a public hearing on April 24 to discuss the matter. At the beginning of the meeting board members explained to the public that by building this road the land will become economically viable and reduce safety concerns on the walking and bike trail.
Fifteen feet will separate the towpath from the new road. The town is asking for a total of seven property owners to donate 60 feet or less of their land in order to help move this project forward. If land is not donated the town may have to take the land under eminent domain.
Eminent domain is defined as the power of the federal or state government to take private property for a public purpose, even if the property owner objects
The Fifth Amendment allows the government to take private property if the taking is for a public use and the owner is justly compensated (usually, paid fair market value) for his or her loss.
A public use is virtually anything that is sanctioned by a federal or state legislative body, but such uses may include roads, parks, reservoirs, schools, hospitals or other public buildings.
This marks the first time that the town of Camillus has ever proposed to use eminent domain.