Eminent domain for Business Park?


By Patsy Nicosia

The Town of Schoharie is looking to make its ownership of water, sewer, and the two roads in the Schoharie Business Park—Park Place and Holiday Way—official—even if it means eminent domain.
Largely because it’s already paying the bills.
A public hearing to review and consider the possibility of using eminent domain to take over the land and infrastructure “comprising the sewer and water systems and the two roads” will be held July 11.
To date, the town’s spent more than $600,000 on keeping water and sewer running and the roads passable, Supervisor Alan Tavenner said, and efforts to work with Business Park owner Michael Shaughnessy since 2017 have gone nowhere.
The resolution approving the possibility of using eminent domain lays out the timeline of those efforts:
Mr. Shaughnessy acquired the Business Park in July 2017—and then immediately failed to operate or maintain the water and sewer systems, abandoning them.
In January 2019, the town took over sewer; in January 2020, water; and since January 2022, the roads, “including obtaining funding for and incurring costs” for maintaining them “so they can continue to operate and support the Park and its tenants.”
The resolution notes that not only has Mr. Shaughnessy faled to take responsibility for operating and maintaining the systems, but he’s also “repeatedly made unreasonable demands that the Town pay substantial sums of money to formerly acquire” them.
“The Town has concluded it has no reasonable options but to initiate a process for formerly acquiring” them through eminent domain “…in the best interests of the health, safety and welfare of the Town and its residents…”
The resolution holds out the possibility—unlikely—that the town can acquire the systems “by voluntary compliance” and authorizes the Town Board to investigate whether the use of eminent domain to acquire them with review, for now, the first step.
“We’ve been talking to him [Mr. Shaughnessy] for three years,” said Supervisor Alan Tavenner; now he’s not even returning their calls.
“This is what it comes down to so the businesses there can continue to exist.”