Why are Burnet Road homes in danger?
Since the 1990s, the Onondaga County Industrial Development Agency (OCIDA) has been purchasing land to create the “White Pine Commerce Park.” Despite millions of dollars spent increasing the size of the site, OCIDA has failed for decades to attract a single tenant to the area, so the site sits vacant and undeveloped. In 2020, Onondaga County made a renewed push to expand the size of the park. Unfortunately, this planned expansion includes the privately owned homes of Burnet Road, many of which are not for sale. The county is pressuring the residents of Burnet Road to sign purchase options, intimidating the owners with the threat of eminent domain if they do not sell.
Burnet Road is a longstanding close-knit neighborhood with both family homes and farmland. These are family homesteads passed from parents to children since the 1950s, but to county officials, they’re just lines on a map. If these homes aren’t safe from this kind of abuse of government power, no one’s home is safe.
What is eminent domain and how is it used?
Eminent domain is the power of the government to take a person’s private property for public use. In August, OCIDA voted to authorize the use of eminent domain, and could hold a public hearing to begin the process at any time. The blatant abuse of eminent domain for economic development—seizing land from a private owner and giving it to a large corporation—is illegal in states across the country, but New York’s courts and legislatures have allowed it to run rampant. In America, your home is supposed to be your castle. But in New York, your home is your castle only until a government official wants to take it for something else they want to see there.
The county says they have most of the land they need, is that true?
No. Despite the county’s claims that they have acquired almost all of the property that it needs to expand the park, OCIDA does not own all of the properties that are currently marketed as White Pine Commerce Park in their online brochures. Residents continue to receive threats of eminent domain.
In reality, OCIDA is aggressively working to replace a rural community on behalf of a giant corporation that hasn’t even agreed to build yet. The county is misleading the residents, the community, and prospective tenants, as not all the land advertised as White Pine Commerce Park is controlled by local government, nor does it have sewer access. The county is overselling its ability to attract a tenant while destroying a community in the process.
What should the Onondaga County Industrial Development Agency (OCIDA) do?
The Coalition is calling on OCIDA and county leaders to renounce plans to use eminent domain, and to reverse their previous vote.
This map shows the proposed expansion of the White Pine Commerce Park. The current boundaries of the park are depicted with purple. The proposed expansion, shown in light blue, will engulf Burnet Road, shown in red, and the approximately 37 homes on the road.