When business owner Phil Jakes-Johnson first heard plans for a Research and Development Park, he said he was thrilled. After all, who wouldn't want the economic growth that would come along with it?
"I was encouraged when I read about that we were going to have a research park and it was going to be on the land potentially where we had a business. So I thought we might be incorporated in," said Jakes-Johnson.
But the Pyramid Corporation wasn't going to include his business or the 28 others located on the land they wanted to develop. In fact, the Corporation asked OCIDA to use eminent domain to condemn all of them. But Jakes-Johnson said the business owners weren't going to just stand by and watch. They formed the Salina 29.
"We were against eminent domain abuse. And I'll define abuse as taking land or money away from one private citizen and giving it to another by use of the Government's power of eminent domain," said Jakes-Johnson.
The Salina 29 finally got their way. County Executive Nick Pirro announced Pyramid requested its application for the research park be modified to include only publicly-owned lands north of 7th North Street.
"I think that's good news for the future of this project and good news for the Salina 29 businesses and certainly it's time to move ahead," said Pirro.
Business owners like Jakes-Johnson said the fight was never personal. It was just property owners protecting their rights. He said now that eminent domain is out of the picture, he fully supports the Destiny project.
"I will celebrate this decision by the Pyramid Corporation by having dinner tonight at the carousel mall," Jakes-Johnson.
The vote on Pyramid's request is set for next Thursday.
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