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County starts eminent domain proceedings over airport land

2014-04-29T20:00:00Z 2014-04-30T17:56:04Z County starts eminent domain proceedings over airport land Glens Falls Post-Star

QUEENSBURY -- Warren County leaders voted Tuesday to begin eminent domain proceedings to expand Warren County Airport’s main runway after a property owner opted out of a sale agreement.

The county believed it had come to an agreement with local developer Vic Macri to buy four acres of land and avigation easements over 80 acres he owns between the airport and Quaker Road. The purchases would allow the county to expand the main runway 1,000 feet.

That agreement was reached after more than a year of negotiations in which Macri made it clear he was not happy with the county’s offer, supervisors said.

Macri recently decided to withdraw from the sale, which would have resulted in him being paid $327,200.

The agreement was reached a year ago and county officials had begun preparatory work to take possession of the property.

Eminent domain is a legal proceeding in which a municipality or governmental agency can take land for its use, with the owner awarded “just compensation.”

Warren County Attorney Martin Auffredou said Macri had taken issue with the county’s valuation of the land and the easements.

The county could try to force Macri to live up to the contract, but Auffredou said he thinks eminent domain is the better route. It will cost about $30,000 to undertake an eminent domain proceeding.

Macri, who is president of construction company VMJR Companies of Glens Falls, could not be reached for comment Tuesday. A phone message left at his office was not returned.

The Facilities Committee voted 3-2 to begin eminent domain proceedings, with Queensbury at-Large Supervisor Mark Westcott and Chester Supervisor Fred Monroe voting against the measure because they had unanswered questions. Glens Falls 1st Ward Supervisor Dan Girard, Queensbury Supervisor John Strough and Thurman Supervisor Evelyn Wood voted to proceed.

Girard said Macri had sought to build an access road to the property, and the county had been willing to assist with the road.

Westcott suggested county officials meet with Macri to try to work out an agreement.

Westcott has questioned the need for the extension, and said he is concerned the state Department of Environmental Conservation may not approve the runway extension.

“We should be sure we’re going to move forward with this,” Westcott said.

Monroe said the situation “sounds like a breach of contract” on Macri’s part, and he asked whether the county could try to enforce the contract.

Some supervisors questioned why the county would pursue eminent domain in Macri’s situation, but has committed to spending more than $1 million for property and easement acquisitions at the east end of the airport’s other runway, instead of pursuing easements via eminent domain at a lower price.

“I’m getting conflicting messages about weather this board believes in eminent domain or doesn’t believe in eminent domain,” Queensbury at-Large Supervisor Doug Beaty said.

Warren County Public Works Superintendent Jeff Tennyson said county officials have been negotiating with Macri for years and his valuation of the land and easement is “so far off” from the county’s.

“Without moving forward we run the risk of having obstructions that are unresolved,” Tennyson said.

Copyright 2015 Glens Falls Post-Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(17) Comments

  1. theMaven
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    theMaven - April 30, 2014 5:27 pm
    Does anybody know of one corporation,

    one jet,

    or any method of conveiance that wanted to land at the airport,

    and could not?

    Just one?

    If not, they are spending numerous millions for absolutely nothing.

    BTW, still wondering how much the clear cutting cost.,

    anyone know?
  2. gfsdnobrains
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    gfsdnobrains - April 30, 2014 4:09 pm

    From a past story in the Post Star. Officials said earlier this year that Rich Air, headed by local developer Richard Schermerhorn, spent more than $1 million on renovations at the airport, including construction of the new hangar building. Funny someone spends that much money and isn't mentioned in this article ? There is more to this story in my opinion, the county thinks taxpayers are stupid but, in reality money is the driving force and I hope people pay attention. This is not about eminent domain, this is about power and our elected officials are forgetting about the taxpayers and helping the rich. Again just my opinion but let's see how the money trail works out if this goes through.

  3. selectivenews
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    selectivenews - April 30, 2014 2:47 pm
    The public is willfully ignorant of this and other issues because they "like" their supervisor. If we throw several
    Of them out in the next election we might get their attention....but I doubt it!
  4. something is wrong
    Report Abuse
    something is wrong - April 30, 2014 2:03 pm
    Also they have a habit of showing the people that they are in total control!
  5. something is wrong
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    something is wrong - April 30, 2014 1:52 pm
    Since this airport expansion will only benefit a finite few why is the board so adamant of putting this through. Even to the point of using strong arm tactics. It gives the impression that certain pressures are being applied that are less than above board.
  6. theMaven
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    theMaven - April 30, 2014 1:51 pm
    Steal it for 80 grand an acre

    wish they would steal some of my land.
  7. LGR
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    LGR - April 30, 2014 12:00 pm
    The county is going to plant trees where they cut trees because someone doesn't want to look at the airport. Now the county wants to take the land from the land owner because he wants too much money. Guess the free money for the expansion isn't quite free. Maybe he will barter, throw in the co-gen plant.
  8. DWC121
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    DWC121 - April 30, 2014 11:14 am
    Eminent domain (Harrumph). So, the Airport is public property? I did not realize public property could be leased to someone else (Rich Air), and the property would still be considered “public" property.

    My opinion - Rich Air should not be allowed to make more money if/when the Airport expands due to this land grab. If more airport revenue is generated, it should go to the public. If any additional airport revenue goes to Rich Air, we’ll know eminent domain was used for private gain. THAT is not what eminent domain was intended for.
  9. 5756917
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    5756917 - April 30, 2014 10:43 am
    Let me ask Warren County leaders: Is this expansion of the airport going to positively impact all residents of Warren County? If the answer is no, then this is government trying to use its powers for a few. In no circumstance, should eminent domain be used by any form of government unless it is to benefit all the citizens.
  10. robzzyzx
    Report Abuse
    robzzyzx - April 30, 2014 10:37 am
    And so another roadblock in an already unbelievable waste of time and money for the "runway to nowhere!" So many options, but maybe this time DEC will stop it from going forward? Is anyone keeping a financial tally on this mess? Let's not forget how much time is being spent by County Supervisors, Attorney, Administrator, etc. And all for the supposed ROI that more corporate jets conveniently landing in bad weather at Warren County airport is going to bring new jobs, companies, and tax revenues to the region as a result. Oh and I'm the tooth fairy! And Mr. Macri is turning down $80K/acre for this property? Wow, anyone look to see what he paid and how much he's making? Sure sounds like a hose job to me.
  11. darksider57
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    darksider57 - April 30, 2014 10:36 am
    The new American way,we can't buy it so we will just steal it!!!
  12. selectivenews
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    selectivenews - April 30, 2014 10:35 am
    Hmmmm we are "buying" property from one owner because he wouldn't sell, and we over paid for the land but now we want to exercise eminent domain in another case because we won't pay more than the offer??? Is it just me or does this smell more and more every time the county talks about it?
  13. loneoak
    Report Abuse
    loneoak - April 30, 2014 7:19 am
    Private land, the owner not selling, an airport with no future, small group of people decide to STEAL the land, welcome to the new America. We better keep "under God" in the pledge because that is our only hope.
  14. theMaven
    Report Abuse
    theMaven - April 30, 2014 5:04 am
    BTW, that's a sweet 310, what is it a K, maybe L?
  15. Crazylibbrel
    Report Abuse
    Crazylibbrel - April 30, 2014 1:06 am
    And all of this is because they want to extend the runway (already deemed unnecessary by most disinterested 3rd parties)...because of a "free" money grant (which isn't really free) from the Fed Gov't??
    Something is verrry very fishy about this whole mess. Just doesn't pass 'the sniff test'...
  16. theMaven
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    theMaven - April 29, 2014 11:02 pm
    Maybe greed is not the best policy for all landowners, or maybe he looked at the precedent the other land purchase is setting.

    Graft aside, why not give up the idea of this land grab all together?

    It is stupid.

  17. noeller
    Report Abuse
    noeller - April 29, 2014 9:41 pm
    *whether.

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