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Village Already Spent $30,000 in Lawyer Fees on Eminent Domain Case?

And they have not even gone to court yet?

So, I am going to write this in first person as I do not want this to be confused with “fake news” (wink, wink Andrew).  Also, I have not been employed as a public relation representative by Mr. Otero since the public hearing this past October, so any opinion below is only my opinion and not that of Mr. Otero.


I recently Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) requested all checks written by the Village to the Hodson Russ Law Firm since January of 2022.  The Village (as obligated by the FOIA) sent me a list of 7 checks paid by the village to the law firm over the past two years.


As you will see… there are three charges that are simply denoted, “Special Items, Contingency”.  These three charges are for $9,313.40 on September 9th of this past year, $15,611.02 on December 11th of this past year, and $4,639.90 on this past January 9th, totaling $29,564.32… almost $30,000 in “mystery” payments.


I have emailed the village clerk and village accountant multiple times asking if those charges were for the eminent domain suite against Tarek Otero for the parking lot just off of Main Street in Wellsville. Well, I have had no response.


So, on Friday I called the law firm and asked them what those charges were for… the accountant responded that the only notation associated with the invoices was “land procurement”.


At this point here is what we do know…

1.      The village has paid almost $30,000 in “Special Items, Contingency” charges to the same law firm representing them in the eminent domain case.

2.      Those charges all coincide with the timeframe of filing the eminent domain case and the public hearing for the eminent domain case.

3.      The village is refusing to respond if those charges are for services in reference to the eminent domain case.

4.      The law firm says the charges are for “land procurement”.


Now here is the big issue… if tomorrow the village were to win the eminent domain case, they would still have to pay the about $30,000 to Mr. Otero for the assessed property value meaning the village would have spent around $60,000. 


Now, this won’t happen because this case has not even gone to court yet.  Can you imagine the lawyer fees if this case goes to court?  It is at least going to be another $30,000 but I bet it will more likely be in the $60,000 range or higher!  Which ultimately means that if the village wins, they still have to pay Mr. Otero $30,000 bringing the total cost to the village upwards of $120,000.  And this is only if the court believes the value of the property is the base appraisal and not valued higher. Which really means we all loose!

And, if Mr. Otero wins the judgement, then the village is out at least $90,000 in lawyer fees and no property to show for it.

Do you see the bigger issue here? 

I can almost guarantee you that had the village board set aside their egos and sat down with Mr. Otero... tried to talk things out... there could have been a settlement reached somewhere around $100,000 for the property.  If that was too much for the village… then they could have just walked away.  But, in their arrogance here we are… a colossal mess which in the end, only hurts us.. the tax payers. 


I encourage you to reach out to our mayor and express your concern with his leadership.  You have a right to be heard and things will only change when we make our voices known. The Village Board has decided that they will only hear from people they want to hear from at board meetings. They no longer are allowing the pubic to address them openly unless they choose to hear from you… but that does not mean you do not have a right to call/email your opinions and concerns. Contact Mayor Randy Shayler at: / 585-596-1750 / 585-596-1809.


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