Saratoga County

Court OK’s water line route

A state Supreme Court judge on Monday gave the county Water Authority permanent easements over about
Mary Zetterstrom, left, and her daughter Debbie walk on their land on Northline Road in Ballston Spa on Monday after learning that the county had won a court case granting a permanent easement through eminent domain for construction of a new water line.
Mary Zetterstrom, left, and her daughter Debbie walk on their land on Northline Road in Ballston Spa on Monday after learning that the county had won a court case granting a permanent easement through eminent domain for construction of a new water line.

A state Supreme Court judge on Monday gave the county Water Authority permanent easements over about a dozen disputed properties where it plans to run its water line.

The order by Judge Thomas D. Nolan Jr. makes permanent the temporary easements he granted for authority in April, so contractors could go on the property. But it doesn’t settle the issue of how much landowners will be paid under eminent domain law.

One Saratoga Springs family plans to continue fighting for more money, unhappy with the authority’s offer.

“I have concerns because there are a number of pieces of machinery and pipe on our property,” said Debbie Zetterstrom, whose mother owns farmland between Saratoga Spa State Park and the Kayaderosseras Creek that the pipe will cross.

Zetterstrom and her 83-year-old mother, Mary, attended the hearing Monday in a Ballston Spa courtroom.

Of about 140 landowners along the 28-mile pipeline route from Moreau to Malta, a dozen are part of the eminent domain case. The others reached voluntary settlements with the authority.

The authority gave the 13 owners new compensation offers earlier this month based on court-ordered land appraisals. Based on that, the judge granted the permanent easements Monday, postponing decisions on how much the authority should pay until later.

Mark Schachner of Glens Falls, one of the authority’s attorneys, said the law allows the authority to take the easements while the question of how much will be paid for them is decided.

Most property owners who received appraisals took an option of asking for payment of the appraised value as an advance, but without agreeing that that would be the final value.

“The vast majority have said what you’re offering is not enough,” Schachner said.

Landowners can now do their own appraisals and submit them to the court, and the authority will refine its appraisals, in a process Schachner said can last years. Nolan set a status conference for April.

One landowner who has previously objected, Will Orthwein of Greenfield, reached agreement Monday on a 15-month temporary easement for $1,500.

“They’ve given me a reasonable offer, and I’m not trying to be unreasonable,” Orthwein said.

The court order also includes CP Rail, although Schachner said a deal with the railroad company appears close. Several miles of pipe near Saratoga Springs will run next to the tracks.

“There are negotiations going on with the railroad we think will be favorably resolved,” Schachner said.

The $67 million project is bringing water from the upper Hudson River to the Luther Forest Technology Campus, where Advanced Micro Devices is planning a new computer chip factory. The treatment plant and pipeline are now under construction, and are supposed to be finished in late 2009.

Water Authority Chairman John E. Lawler, R-Waterford, expressed pleasure with Nolan’s ruling, but acknowledged the case isn’t over.

“It’s not materially affecting construction. It’s more of a legal issue at this point,” Lawler said.

The pipe hasn’t been installed yet on the Zetterstrom or Orthwein properties, but both landowners said they see contractor preparations. A number of large-diameter pipes are on the Zetterstrom property already.

Categories: Uncategorized

Leave a Reply