With little analysis and virtually no public discussion, Croton is on the verge of making what could easily become the most catastrophic decision in the village’s 108 year history. The new Republican majority on the Village Board has just voted to move forward with the preliminary steps in the eminent domain process to acquire the site of the former Metro Enviro. If we could be certain that the cost to the village would only be in the range of 2 to 3 million dollars, then consideration of taking the site might be worth further examination.
Unfortunately, we will not know how much we will have to pay the owner until after we’ve acquired the land, and we cannot back out at that point. If a Court decided at that stage that the highest and best use of the property was not a waste transfer station, then the Village might get away with paying a few million dollars. If, on the other hand, it decided that the highest and best use was a waste transfer station, the Court could then enter judgment against the Village for as much as $30 million to $50 million (the potential value of a highly profitable business) and Croton would have to file for bankruptcy.
The Village needs to know how likely the second possibility is, but, given the legal complexities, the answer is uncertain. It seems to me that, unless the Village can be guaranteed that there is no chance that we’ll have ever have to pay the larger amount, then going forward with the eminent domain process is the height of recklessness.