CLAY, N.Y.—Today, Micron Technology and Onondaga County announced plans to build a microchip facility at the White Pine Commerce Park in Clay, a decision that could put the homes of several Clay citizens in jeopardy. The homeowners along rural Burnet Road—who have been working with the Institute for Justice (IJ) to push back against the county land grab since last November—plan to continue fighting.
Onondaga County does not own all of the land it has promised to the chip developer. Instead, a significant part of it is owned by families who live and have lived on Burnet Road for decades. In August 2021, the Onondaga County Industrial Development Agency voted to authorize its staff to hold public hearings that would allow the use of eminent domain to seize the homes of innocent people, give the property over to a private corporation, and expand the county-owned commerce park which has sat vacant since the 1990s. That hearing, though, has not yet happened.
“My father built this home, and my family has lived here for decades. I’m not going to sit back and let the county take my family’s home and hand it over to a private corporation,” said Paul Richer, one of the Burnet Road homeowners.
Last month, several of the homeowners worked together to file code complaints against the properties that had already been taken by the county. Chief among the complaints about the county-owned properties were that many had fallen into disrepair and attracted criminal activity, such as looting.
“The county has basically put ‘for sale’ signs in front of our homes, even though we don’t want to sell them,” said Britta Serog, another one of the Burnet Road homeowners. “This road was a community with rural charm, and the loss of farmland would be tragic. The county cannot just take our land because they want something else here.”
“Taking homes from families and giving them over to a billion-dollar corporation isn’t just un-American, it’s unconstitutional,” said IJ Attorney Bob Belden. “Other states throughout the country have made this abusive practice illegal, but New York State still allows it to run rampant.”
IJ has fought back against similar abuses of eminent domain, including representing Susette Kelo in the 2005 Supreme Court case Kelo v. City of New London. Additionally, IJ’s grassroots activism has helped save tens of thousands of homes and small businesses from eminent domain abuse.