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County may use eminent domain on right of way near industrial park

OBSERVER Photo by Gregory Bacon The Chautauqua County IDA believes it’s unsafe for all tractor trailers to enter 320 Roberts Road only by Talcott Street.

Chautauqua County is moving ahead with a plan to use eminent domain to help Fieldbrook Foods utilize the new cold storage facility better and also create opportunity to develop some vacant parcels in Dunkirk.

During the Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency meeting, board members unanimously backed a resolution regarding acquisition of a permanent easement over property located at South Roberts Road in Dunkirk by exercise of eminent domain.

According to Richard Dixon, IDA chief financial officer, the new cold storage facility, which is owned by Krog Corporation and utilized by Fieldbrook Foods at 320 Roberts Road, can only be entered off of Talcott Street. For tractor trailers to enter the property, “it’s very unsafe,” he said.

Nearby there is an unused driveway, which is owned by Refresco. That unused driveway also leads to three county-owned empty parcels.

“Without the condemnation of this right of way by the IDA, we won’t have any access to those parcels,” Dixon said. “We’re looking to redevelop those brownfields. There’s major interest in those but we have no access.”

Dixon said they plan to condemn Refresco’s right of way, take it, and then everyone in the nearby Chadwick Bay Industrial Park will have better access to their properties.

Some of the hold up may be due to an unused building that Refresco owns that Krog wants to buy. Dixon said the two sides have been negotiating for a year and a half. He said the building is assessed at $223,000 and Refresco wants $450,000 for it.

With passage of the eminent domain resolution, attorneys for the county IDA said a 30-day window has begun for legal challenges. They believe Refresco and Krog may go back to negotiations and if Krog is successful in buying the vacant building, then the county would not need to use eminent domain.

Mark Geise, the chief executive officer for the county IDA, hopes the two businesses will be able to settle.

“One would hope that Refresco would negotiate with Krog and offer that land to them at a fair price,” he said in an interview after the meeting.

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