On Thursday the New York State Appellate Division: Fourth Judicial Department in Rochester released a decision that ruled against the city’s effort to annex the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities Dow Street Substation property, stating that the city’s original petition to initiate the court review on the matter was untimely.
In their opinion, the justices of the court said that the city had to bring a proceeding forward on the annexation issue within 30 days after the Town of Ellicott and Village of Falconer filed their petitions with the county clerk, staying they were opposed to the annexation.
The Substation sits on property in the Town of Ellicott and the Village of Falconer on Dow Street between Tiffany Avenue and south of East Second Street.
The Jamestown City Council voted to annex the BPU Substation Property in August 2017 – claiming it was in the public’s best interest for the city to take over the land. That’s because the city not only has a professional public safety department to respond to any emergencies at the property, but it also would have resulted in a cost savings for the BPU and its rate payers.
The annexation would have moved forward unless either Falconer or Ellicott officials held a vote to oppose it. Both did so during their respective September 2017 board meetings and those opposition filings were then received by the Chautauqua County Clerk’s Office on Sept. 13, 2017. Under state law, the city then had 30 days to file a petition to challenge the opposition. But instead, the petition wasn’t filed until Nov. 8, 2017. As a result, the appellate court said the city was untimely in its effort and the annexation would not go forward.
The appellate division did not make any decisions on the actual merits of the annexation and whether or not it actually would be in the public’s best interest to move forward. According to a media release from the Board of Public Utilities, that means the the door has been left open for the city to continue to pursue annexation of the substation property.
“In the meantime, the decision will continue to cost the BPU at least $173,000 in increased expenses each year, which will have both short-term and long-term negative impacts, not just on the BPU, but on all ratepayers, including those who reside in the Town of Ellicott and the Village of Falconer,” the BPU said in a media release sent out in response to the decision.
The substation is assessed at $7,861,599. Currently, the Electric Division pays $72,000 per year to the Village of Falconer; $40,000 per year to the Town of Ellicott; $155,000 per year to the Falconer Central School District and $69,000 a year to Chautauqua County for an annual total of $336,000 paid in taxes for the Dow Street Substation property. That’s mainly the reason why Falconer, Ellicott and the school district were all opposed to the effort.
The Jamestown BPU has so far committed over $400,000 in legal fees toward the case. Falconer/Ellicott/School District have spent at least $320,000.