Sweden ponders eminent domain: (Rochester NY) Democrat and Chronicle, 8/9/06

By Alan Morrell

[Sweden NY] Town officials are considering forcing a property owner to sell land on Brockport-Spencerport Road as part of a project that would bring a Lowe's home store to town.

Lowe's has agreed to build sidewalks and turning lanes as part of the project, said Supervisor Nat Lester.

All property owners except one — identified as the Dragani family — have agreed to sell easements to their property, said Dan Spitzer of Buffalo, a lawyer hired by the town for the eminent domain issue.

"I'm not fond of taking private property, but it's for the overall good of the town," Lester said. "It's a dangerous stretch of town there, and this is a wonderful opportunity ... to have (the Draganis' refusal) hold it up would be horrible for the town."

The Draganis could not be reached for comment. Town officials said at least one member of the family was in Italy, and that they had contacted another family member by fax only. Spitzer said he did not have a way to contact the Draganis; Ronald Bronstein of Paradigm Development in Colden, Erie County, who will develop the Lowe's store, said the same.

"We're interested observers," Bronstein said.

"It's really between the town and the landowner. If the town is able to acquire the property, we've said we'll build the sidewalks. But we're not going to go after individual landowners."

Raymond L. Sciarrino of Mount Morris, Livingston County, who has represented the Dragani family in past real estate transactions, said the family retained another attorney for this matter. The process of eminent domain could be taken because the sidewalks and other improvements would be in the public interest, Lester said.

A public hearing about acquiring the Dragani land, the first step in an eminent domain proceeding, was postponed from Tuesday night because of a discrepancy between the survey map and the area described in a legal notice. That public hearing now is scheduled for September, Lester said.

Regardless, Lester said, the Dragani land matter will not hold up the project.

"Lowe's is definitely coming to town," he said. "They have their permits in place."

Bronstein said that he could build sidewalks up to and around the Dragani property, if the town could not acquire the land.

Plans call for a 136,000-square-foot Lowe's store, along with a 28,000-square-foot garden center, to be built on the southeast corner of Owens and Brockport-Spencerport roads. Those plans were first submitted in August 2005, said Phyllis Brudz, secretary to the Planning Board and deputy town clerk.

The project would be built on a 55-acre parcel, Brudz said. The Lowe's store and garden center would encompass roughly 20 acres, with the remainder to be developed commercially in phases.

The Town Board rezoned the land from industrial to commercial last year.

The only necessary approvals were from the Planning Board, which gave its OK in January.

The Dragani home has been vacant for years, and town officials have cited the property for code violations, Lester said.

"Some would call it an eyesore," he said.

Bronstein said he plans to break ground on the project in October.

(Rochester NY) Democrat and Chronicle: http://www.democratandchronicle.com