The state Commission of Correction Counsel Office announced its support of Herkimer County’s position on a pending lawsuit involving zoning in the village of Herkimer for a proposed county jail site.
The village previously denied requests from the county to access the sewer system for the new jail proposed at the former P&C Foods site on State Route 28 in the village, and according to archives, voted to amend a zoning law to prohibit construction of a correctional facility in the area.
Vincent Bono, chairman of the county legislature, said in the release the commission’s letter stated the “State legislature has clearly given responsibility for the construction and placement of local correctional facilities to the Commission of Correction, thereby preempting local government actions like the village of Herkimer’s recent zoning changes seeking to exclude the construction of a jail at the state approved former P&C site.”
While county Administrator James Wallace has said the county could set up a septic sewer if access is refused, the cost would fall on taxpayers.
“We would prefer public sewer, but we could get away with septic sewer,” he said.
The county had asked the village to grant pre-approval access to the sewers despite not having a procedure for pre-approval, said Mike Longstreet, the village’s civil litigation attorney from Longstreet and Berry LLP in Syracuse.
“The county didn’t detail plans to the appropriate person with the village,” he said. “They have to go through the proper procedures like every body else.”
Oneida County Supreme Court Judge Erin Gall has yet to rule on the suit, and calls to the office to find out the status were not returned immediately.
The letter from the commission to the county details any finding contrary to state law and regulatory schemes would be “inconsistent” and would “seriously inhibit the ability of the a county to construct and site new local facilities.”
While the commission attempted to intervene, the court indicated it would not be a timely manner, however, the commission is prepared to file in support with Herkimer County should there be additional review.