Bill Kalanges has filed a civil lawsuit against the village of Essex Jct. alleging it has repeatedly failed to articulate what the Crescent Connector road will look like when it’s finished, curbing his ability to challenge the taking of his land through eminent domain.
Kalanges has argued the project unnecessarily infringes on his Maple St. land and will negatively impact the business of one of his tenants by removing parking spaces and making it difficult to navigate for tractor trailers.
But in a suit filed earlier this month, the local business owner says the village’s information about the planned bypass road has been insufficient to date, making it impossible for him to determine how much of his land it impacts.
Without such information, the filing says, Kalanges cannot determine whether the village needed to take his land or determine how much he believes he should be owed. Eliza van Lennep, Kalanges’ attorney, could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.
The suit is a last-ditch effort to prevent the village from condemning the land along following a July order from the board of trustees.
At recent hearings over the summer, village officials have challenged Kalanges’ claims of ignorance about the road’s design, arguing they have provided him all the necessary documentation.
Kalanges’ property was one of four being sought as a permanent village right-of-way this winter. The municipality had already reached agreements with three other property owners, but Kalanges remained the lone hold out despite an offer of $82,595, prompting the village to pursue eminent domain.
That process requires the village to judge if the project is in the public’s best interest, and whether inconveniences placed on property owners warrants changing the plans.
The village’s condemnation order outlines the project’s expected benefits. It points to an estimated 30-second wait time reduction at Five Corners traffic, resulting in a 20 percent reduction in CO2 emissions. And it says the road will improve pedestrian and bicycle travel, enhance economic opportunities by freeing up land around the road for development and provide new safety measures for railroad crossings.
But perhaps most pressing for the village: the project is paid for entirely by state and federal funds. If the project does not proceed, however, the village will need to repay the $1.85 million spent thus far.
The trustees planned to discuss whether to postpone Thursday’s hearing during an expected executive session at their regular meeting Tuesday night, after The Reporter’s deadline.