The Guilderland Central School District put the brakes on traveling down a private road to pick up children, which has spurred town officials to quickly make the road public.
The Town Board voted unanimously on Tuesday, Sept. 17, to acquire Stitt Road through eminent domain, but proceedings will not move forward until Oct. 13. The private road was used to access several quarries established along the road decades ago, and now fewer than a dozen homes sit along the secluded roadway.
Town Supervisor Ken Runion said about four years ago, the Town Board asked William M. Larned & Sons, Inc., to reach out to property owners along the right-of-way known as Stitt Road. Larned’s special use permit required him to turn the portion of roadway he owned over to the town. But there was a bump in the process, because approximately 1,400 feet of roadway was located off Larned’s property.
“Part of the reclamation of some of the quarries was that Stitt Road be upgraded and improved, a new Stitt Road was constructed, and then it would eventually be dedicated to the town,” Runion said. “That process has taken quite some time and there are two property owners along the right-of-way that Larned and company, which was responsible for improving Stitt Road and turning it over to the town, had not been able to get deeds to.”
Since Larned couldn’t acquire the necessary deeds, the town has decided to use eminent domain to acquire the land.
Runion said he received a call from a concerned parent about the school district declining to pick up their child on the private road and he confirmed that with the district. The district would not travel up the road unless it was owned and maintained by the town, according to Runion. Some residents claimed Larned did not properly maintain the road, leading to the district’s decision.
Larned said the process of handing over the road was, at least partially, held up because Stitt Road residents wanted to make the entire road public and he couldn’t “readily” bring it up to required standards.
The delay in the town’s action towards commencing proceedings stems from Fred Wagner, owner of Helderberg Excavating & Trucking, Inc., requesting additional time before the process begins.
Wagner, who owns a portion of land being mined in the neighborhood, claims to be near completing negotiations with Fred and Christina Audi to purchase a portion of their property. Wagner’s property is land-locked and Stitt Road is possibly not up to specifications for heavier vehicles and equipment.
The Audis appeared receptive to the deal, but Wagner would still have to purchase another portion of land from Larned. Wagner said he was looking to acquire around a 15- to 20-foot strip of land through the properties.
For around an hour during the meeting, neighbors debated whether or not the road should be public and Wagner’s proposal to acquire land to access his property. The town has no control over Wagner’s proposal since it’s a private land purchase, but it can regulate the usage of land.
Steve Wilson, who has lived on Stitt Road with his wife since 1966, said he was pleased to see the town moving forward on acquiring the road. Wilson said the main issue is determining if the type of traffic on Stitt Road is aligned with the neighborhood needs.
“It has been a long difficult trip to get to where we are tonight,” Wilson said. “If we can move this toward a road built to town specifications … and we can continue to have the services we have enjoyed … that is going to be a wonderful thing.”
Some services would also be added with the acquisition, such as town leaf pick-up and snowplows coming down the street. There is also a forever-wild parcel located off Stitt Road that would be turned over to the town.