The village of Herkimer plans to appeal State Supreme Justice Erin Gall’s decision declaring the village’s amended zoning ordinance “null and void.”
Following an executive session during Monday night’s meeting, the village board decided it was in the best interest of the village to appeal the decision, Acting Village Clerk-Treasurer Amanda Viscomi said during a telephone interview Tuesday.
The village board claims that when Gall declared an amended zoning ordinance that restricted construction of correctional facilities and jail within the village “null and void” she did not use case law in her findings. “She didn’t quote or reference her findings with any basis as to how she came to her decision,” said Viscomi.
Gall also declared the village should grant the county access to sewer and municipal services pending the county’s resubmission of an application, according to court documents released in Herkimer County Court.
Attorney Mike Longstreet, the village’s civic litigation attorney from Longstreet and Berry in Syracuse will send the State Supreme Court a notice to appeal and once the notice has been received an appeal will follow shortly after.
Village Mayor Mark Ainsworth could not be reached for comment prior to press time.
The Herkimer village board changed the zoning ordinance to prohibit the construction of a correctional facility, correctional institution or jail within the village limits.
The county has been pursuing plans to build a new jail, expected to cost a little over $33 million, at the former P&C site due to overcrowding at the current Herkimer County Correctional facility. The current facility houses 41 but, on average, 55 inmates are boarded out at a cost of $150,000, according to the county’s website for the month of May. County Legislature Vincent Bono said the county is over budget due to the cost of boarding out inmates. According to county Administrator James Wallace, the new jail would be able to house 130 within the first year that it is built.
“It’s the taxpayers within the village who do not want the jail to be built at the P&C site,” said Village Trustee William Markey. “They want the jail to be built somewhere outside of the village and we are supporting their wishes.”
The P&C site is currently under the ownership of a village taxpayer. Although the tax revenue made from the land is not very high, if the county, which is tax exempt, were to purchase the site, the village would no longer earn any tax dollars on the property.
“The County has quite a bit of assessed property in the village which is not taxable and right now 53 percent of the village is non-taxable property, which is killing us,” Viscomi said. She added that if the jail is built, the village would still have to maintain services to the property without any tax revenue from the county-owned facility.
Page 2 of 2 - “The village is hoping to market the site to a business that would have to pay taxes and create a better source of taxable income for the Village of Herkimer,” said Markey.