‘Don’t take my house:’ Town of Clay neighbors protest high-tech project, reluctant to sell property

Local News

TOWN OF CLAY, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The Onondaga County Executive tells NewsChannel 9 that he’s “very close” to an agreement with homeowners of Burnet Road reluctant to sell their properties for what could be substantial development on the nearby White Pines Commerce Park.

Ryan McMahon said: “They should be compensated more than market value because they’re making a sacrifice for the community.”

One of the 40 homes in jeopardy belongs to Maureen Matthews, whose vocal protest is matched by her visible protest of signs in her lawn.

Matthews broke down in tears when she told NewsChannel 9, “None of us wanted to leave. It’s beautiful here.”

Beautiful and valuable.

The Onondaga County Industrial Development Agency wants the extra land so it can add the properties to the large White Pines Commerce Park next door, giving the community the best chance for a development project.

“Originally configured, this site wasn’t big enough for one of these projects,” OCIDA Director Robert Petrovich explained to NewsChannel 9. “So we’ve embarked on making the site bigger.”

Petrovich says Onondaga County is in “mature conversations” for a high-tech project. Specifically, building a campus for the research and production of semiconductors.

The Onondaga County Executive says: “This isn’t 1930s manufacturing. This is clean room manufacturing with some of the best technology companies in the world doing research and development, and making the products that drive all our technology.”

He claims this specific project can’t go just anywhere.

Ryan McMahon explains: “You can’t find another site in Onondaga County that’s large enough, that has electric and gas, and waste water. You can’t find another site in the State of New York that can do what White Pines can do.”

The site is uniquely located near a National Grid substation which McMahon says could power an entire city.

The campus, he says, would bring thousands of jobs for initial construction and thousands of jobs doing the work.

McMahon says: “The types of economic development investments that are being talked about, that we’re competing for, that we’re finalists for, would be the largest economic development investments in the history of New York State.”

The cost is too high for people whose homes would be demolished. They worry if they refuse a sale, the government will take their properties anyway.

Matthews said, “It’s heartbreaking, gut-wrenching, horrible to live through. We’ve been doing this for months now, trying to fight it.”

She and her neighbors have created a Facebook page which has around 600 members and organized a petition with about 1,500 signatures.

“We’ve gone to great lengths to try and be accommodating, and to offer above market value for their property,” says Robert Petrovich. “In the vast majority of cases, we have been successful. We are continuing conversations with all of the people who own land. We’re hopeful we’ll get to agreement in a way they feel happy and good about the move.”

“I agree there should be jobs, there should be development.” says Matthews. “Don’t take my house. My home.”

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