Trustees to appeal court ruling in sewer easement case

A six-year legal battle over a sewer easement case did not come to a close this week, as the Saranac Lake Village Board of Trustees voted 3-2 to appeal a judge's ruling.

The ruling, handed down by state Supreme Court Judge David Demarest in August of last year, states that the village of Saranac Lake improperly attempted to acquire sewer line easements along Riverside Drive and Kiwassa Drive between 2005 and 2007.

In his ruling, Demarest says the village made no effort to compensate the various property owners involved in the case, and that the village did not follow the state's Eminent Domain Procedure Law.

At Tuesday night's regular board meeting, trustees voted 3-2 to authorize the Harris Beach law firm to appeal the August 2010 decision.

Trustees Tom Catillaz and John McEneany voted in favor of the resolution, while Jeff Branch and Allie Pelletieri voted against it. In most cases, Mayor Clyde Rabideau does not cast a vote - but with the board split, Rabideau voted in favor of the measure.

Rabideau said that the current board never would have let the easement case go this far.

"I'm not an attorney," he said. "I did the best I could as a layman following the legal arguments and the advice of counsel, to whom we've paid about $100,000 - and for that money, I hope we're getting the right advice."

"I have to go with the legal counsel at this juncture," Rabideau added. "I do it reluctantly, and I do it with respect to village residents who are on the other side of the argument. I wish we had not gotten this far - if those attorneys were to come to us with a deal before this keeps on going, I'm sure we'd entertain it."

Deputy Mayor Jeff Branch pointed out that the case has spanned several boards and cost the village up to $250,000.

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