Canandaigua airport decision in holding pattern
The Town Board wants more time to decide whether to accept an offer from the Ontario County Industrial Development Agency to buy a two-acre portion of Thomas Road for $50,000. The IDA needs the road to expand the runway at the Canandaigua Airport.
“We are all feeling terribly pressured,” said board member Marion Cassie last night.
They have one week. The offer from the IDA expires on Dec. 28.
If the board does not accept the offer, the decision will be made in the courts, and the IDA could be granted the portion of road through eminent domain. A judge has already weighed in twice in the case, most recently denying the town’s call to have the case dismissed. The town appealed that decision.
“For something that went on for months and years and all of the sudden ... boom boom boom, we have to make a decision,” said Cassie. “It has been unprofessional at best.”
The board consulted in a 45-minute executive session with Town Attorney Derek Brocklebank. He advised the board not to comment.
Earlier this month, local farmer Chris Pritchard agreed to sell 75 acres of his land — also needed to make way for the airport expansion — to the IDA for $525,000.
“I’ve been through this before,” said Pritchard, who spoke of going through a costly court battle with the IDA in the early 1990s. He lost that fight and was forced to sell land, he said.
“I signed (with the IDA) because I feel I can’t beat them, and because I am not going to spend more money,” he added.
Gary and Naomi Pritchard were also at the meeting. The IDA has offered them $30,000 for an easement that would in effect grant the IDA “air rights” over their land that abuts the airport runway. They also said they felt bullied.
“If the IDA is allowed to go through with this, it sets a precedent because then the IDA can do whatever it wants,” said Naomi Pritchard, adding that the board’s decision whether to sell is a “town issue.”
“These power-hungry people are taking advantage of people who can’t fight them,” she said at the meeting. “It’s about time people in the town stood up against these bureaucrats and made them accountable. ... They’re cheating people.”
The lambasting of the IDA was echoed by several other residents and members of the board before Kinnear turned to other business.
The board will make its decision at a special meeting at the Town Hall, 5440 Routes 5 and 20, on Thursday, Dec. 27, at 6:30 p.m.