The New York Court of Appeals in Rochester has dismissed a major estate lawsuit against Oneida County, further opening the door to building a new parking lot at Wynn Hospital in downtown Utica, which is under construction.
“I am pleased the Appeals Division has dismissed this baseless lawsuit against Oneida County and that we can continue to move forward with our parking lot project,” said County Executive Anthony Picente. from Oneida. “This facility is integral to the success of Wynn Hospital and will bring many other benefits to the continued growth of downtown Utica.”
The decision dated December 23, 2021, the Fourth Judicial Department of the Appeals Division denied the claims of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Brett Truett, Joseph Cerini and 418 Lafayette Street Corporation, saying the county failed to meet the requirements of SEQRA by condemning their properties by eminent domain.
The Court further determined that Oneida County had the authority to condemn the petitioners’ properties through eminent domain, that the acquisition of the properties will serve a public use, and that the procedure was in accordance with the Constitution.
“(Oneida County) has correctly determined that the condemnation of properties will serve the public use of parking and traffic congestion mitigation, notwithstanding that the need for parking is, at least in part, due to a nearby private construction project, i.e. the construction of a hospital. We have considered the petitioners’ remaining arguments and conclude that they are unfounded.” -Decision of the Appeals Division, December 23, 2021
Parties who object to the garage through eminent domain still have the option of appealing the decision to the New York Court of Appeals, and one of the petitioners, Brett Truett, did not jumped for a moment announcing his intentions.
“We will continue to oppose the unnecessary demolition of historic buildings and the seizure of personal property. Our position is explained here. We go surly [sic] seek to appeal,” Truett said in a message sent to WIBX News on Tuesday afternoon.
However, a local lawyer with a public project and prominent experience in the field believes that these efforts would most likely be unsuccessful.
“The AD ruled in favor of the county,” said attorney Joseph Hobika Jr.. “Of course, petitioners may seek the right to file an appeal with the Court of Appeals, if granted, the Court of Appeal will more than likely throw it out of control or refuse to hear it,” he said.
The Mohawk Valley Health System applauded the decision.
“We are extremely pleased with the outcome,” said Darlene Stromstad, FACHE, President and CEO of Mohawk Valley Health System. “The new downtown parking lot is extremely important to the Wynn Hospital project as it will provide convenient and protected parking for our patients. and their family and friends. Many of those who use our services are elderly and/or very ill, and we all know that the weather in central New York can be difficult, so it was imperative to provide the most accessible and sheltered parking space,” said she declared. Stromstad added that staff members and doctors – especially those who work night shifts – will park in the new garage once built.
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