Geneva business rebounds after eminent domain: Ashtabula OH Star Beacon, 3/2/07

By Margie Trax Page

The owners of property seized by eminent domain for the construction of a railroad overpass are moving on and working to build their businesses around the new construction.

Business owner Samuel Fagnilli was forced to rearrange his warehouses and outbuildings along Austin Road when a portion of his property was purchased through eminent domain by the Ohio Department of Transportation.

Fagnilli has moved one warehouse from the roadside where the overpass will be to a piece of property south of the right of way, City Manager Jim Pearson said.

Fagnilli's other warehouse will remain on the property and ODOT will provide Fagnilli with an access road to the building.

But to make the property work for his business, Fagnilli has requested a rezoning hearing to change the property from a general business district to an industrial district.

"Mr. Fagnilli's property is just one of a host of properties purchased by the state for this right of way. In fact, Mr. Fagnilli is one of the last property owners to come forward with a new plan for his property," Pearson said.

That new plan includes small-scale industry, an idea Pearson said has a place in Geneva.

"The Planning Commission feels there is a call for small industry here in Geneva. Right now we don't have any smaller industrial sites," Pearson said. "These 'incubator' or starter spaces gives businesses a place to start and a place to grow right here in Geneva," he said.

City Council read the first reading of Fagnilli's zoning request in Monday's regular meeting. The measure will have two more readings March 12 and March 26. A public hearing on the matter will be held March 26 at 6:30 p.m., just before council votes on the change.

The process of eminent domain on the properties began five years ago when ODOT made a commitment to reduce the number of grade crossings in the state, Pearson said. After state engineers considered 14 possibilities for the railroad crossing.

"It was decided that a straight overpass over Austin Road would be the most efficient and least costly solution," Pearson said.

The City of Geneva will pay 5 percent of the cost of the overpass, Pearson said.

Ashtabula OH Star Beacon: http://www.starbeacon.com