By Michael Regan
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — After planning for years, North Tonawanda is nearing the acquisition of one privately owned plot of land that will be incorporated into the extension of Meadow Drive.
The city spent the better part of 2012 attempting to lock in an easement deal for two plots owned by CSX Transportation, a Virginia rail company. A contract was signed with the company in December that will allow access through its land.
But while that deal has been finalized, with the common council approving the arrangement on Tuesday, the city now is attempting to purchase another 9,800 square-foot parcel owned by three residents — one of the last remaining roadblocks before construction can begin.
City Attorney Shawn Nickerson said two of the three residents signed an agreement in 2011 to sell the plot to the city at a price of $3,000.
A third landowner told the council last week during a public hearing that she would be willing to close the final piece of the acquisition puzzle and sign documentations to approve the sale in the coming weeks.
Nonetheless, Nickerson said he has moved on condemnation proceedings to obtain the property through eminent domain, despite reassurances from the landowners, because of the length of time before a final sale as well as several liens on it dating back years that could still hold up the process.
The liens are tied to a previous owner, though Nickerson said he is trying to avoid additional legal proceedings with creditors who initiated them.
“There (are) two outstanding judgements on the property,” he said. “But I’m hoping the creditors will sign the release.”
City officials plan to launch the Meadow Drive expansion project in March, which they contend will ease traffic congestion issues along Erie Avenue and elsewhere, in lieu of recent commercial developments such as Walmart. It would add a second east-west connecting residential neighborhoods and the city’s central business district.
In other news, the council unanimously approved the reappointment of Thomas Tussing to the traffic safety committee and Ken Braun as zoning board of appeals chairman.Contact reporter Michael Regan at 693-1000, ext. 4115.