Penn Yan Village officials try again for home rule

Gwen Chamberlain The Chronicle-Express

Once again, Penn Yan Village officials have passed a resolution to seek state legislation permitting the transfer of village property for the construction of a residential development planned for the former Penn Yan Marine property off Waddell Avenue.

May 8, the Penn Yan Village Board met to consider a resolution seeking state approval for the transaction for a second time. They first rescinded a similar resolution that had been adopted May 4. The latest resolution includes a specific description of the property to be included in the transaction. The earlier version referred to an “attached description” which was not attached before their vote.

Although village resident Robert Hawley continued his objections to the resolution, the board members present all voted in favor of the resolution. Trustee David Reeve was absent.

At times during the lengthy discussion, the exchange between Mayor Leigh MacKerchar and Hawley became heated, with MacKerchar loudly declaring Hawley out of order when he interrupted the board’s discussion with attorney Ed Brockman.

The resolution seeks the state legislature approval for the village to transfer ownership of about 1.3 acres of land to Keuka Outlet Development to be used in the project. According to the resolution, in 1972, the state legislature authorized the transfer of village parkland property to Penn Yan Boats in a land swap that netted the village a larger lot (over 2 acres) on the opposite side of the Keuka Outlet, adjacent to the Liberty Street Bridge. A pedestrian bridge crossing the outlet is located on that lot, which was previously the site of Angler Boats.

However, as research into boundaries and titles was taking place earlier this year, it was determined that a strip of land the village had acquired from Seneca Grape Juice in 1965 was not included in the 1972 description of the parkland transferred to the boat company.

The strip of land is essentially the extension from Hicks Street to a bridge that crosses Kimball Creek—about 200 feet long, according to Kevin MacAuliffe, attorney for KOD. He said the property had been used by Penn Yan Boats for many years, and there have been four to five descriptions of the property used in the past.

Trustee Willie Allison and Mayor Leigh MacKerchar both said they had been involved with village or fire department operations since the 1970s, and they never believed any of the land in that area belonged to the village.

The new resolution includes a legal description of the property.

MacKerchar said the resolution achieves what was intended to be done in the 1970s. “If the state gives us the OK, it should clear up a lot of questions,” he said.

Monday night, the Yates County Legislature adopted a resolution joining the village’s request for home rule legislation.

Hawley continues to say the proposed transaction is illegal and says he may attempt other means, including a lawsuit to keep the property exchange from moving forward.