LEWISTON – The Town Board has moved toward condemning a small sliver of privately owned land so Legacy Drive can be dedicated as a public street through to Northridge Drive.
Because of a misunderstanding years ago over who owned the property, a short part of Legacy Drive never was dedicated as a public street, Town Attorney Michael J. Dowd said Monday. Town officials said a couple of residences were built there before it was discovered that they are not along a public street and are uninhabitable because they have no legal access to a public thoroughfare.
Town Supervisor Steven L. Reiter said years of negotiations between the town and the property owner have failed to produce an agreement that would open that small section of Legacy Drive to public use. As originally planned, Legacy Drive was to have run from Creek Road to Northridge Drive, just east of the Village of Lewiston and north of Ridge Road (Route 104).
With that 81-foot by 150-foot parcel still privately owned, Legacy Drive runs west from Creek Road to what officially is a dead-end just short of Northridge Drive. That means that town vehicles, such as snowplows, have no right to run across the property, and Fire Department officials say it is a safety issue because the only authorized public access to Legacy Drive is from Creek Road and not from Northridge Drive.
After a public hearing Monday, the five-member Town Board voted unanimously to appoint itself as the lead agency in preparing an environmental impact statement that is necessary for condemnation under eminent domain. Board members then immediately approved a finding that the proposed condemnation and opening of the street would have no harmful environmental impact. The board now has 90 days to decide whether to move forward with a condemnation proceeding.
John Blair, an attorney representing the estate of the late Benjamin Sicoli, owner of the property, urged the board during Monday’s brief public hearing not to proceed with condemnation. He said negotiations over ownership of the property still are under way, suggesting that it is a private difference of opinion among family members and that the board should have no public interest in it.