All but two Oneida County legislators voted on Wednesday to move forward with eminent domain regarding the downtown Utica Hospital and take, by legal compulsion, four properties in the parking garage footprint, whose owners don't want to sell. The legislators adopted the law department's findings and determinations regarding eminent domain and the properties in the garage footprint. Next, the county must publish a notice in the newspaper. The property owners will have 30 days to challenge what the legislators did today. If they don't, the county attorney will file a petition in State Supreme Court.
"We can go into court with the point we made qualified offers to each of the property owners, they rejected them, we have an overall public purpose for building this garage and it's in the court's hands to either transfer title and deal with compensation afterward," says Oneida County Executive, Anthony Picente, Jr.
Picente is confident that, when it goes to court, the judge will grant the county what they seek.
"The fact that all the other properties have been acquired in the footprint with the exception of those four make it highly unlikely that the purpose and the intent of this whole project would be denied," says Picente. "You can't build a garage around them and the other properties have been acquired and they have been demolished, so we're beyond the 11th hour."
One of the four properties the county seeks to take by legal compulsion belongs to Joe Cerini.
"I'm willing to just go to the end, if I have to start over from scratch, I started my business with a $300 credit card. I can be a literally a pain in their butt til the end," says Cerini, who owns Citation Services, on LaFayette Street.
Legislators Tim Julian and Jeffery Daniels voted not to adopt the findings.