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Residents near upcoming Micron plant left in the dark about future of neighborhood

Save Burnet Road sign sits in the snow in front of a home.
Scott Willis
A sign that reads "Save Burnet Road." Long-time residents of White Pine are pushing back to the potential use of eminent domain.

The news of the Micron semiconductor plant coming to White Pine Commerce Park in Onondaga County's Town of Clay generated significant optimism for Central New York's future, but the remaining homeowners on adjacent Burnet Road are stuck in limbo.

About three dozen property owners have lived under the threat of eminent domain for over a year as Onondaga County sought to expand the footprint of White Pine. Roughly two-thirds of them have sold their homes and moved out. The Institute for Justice is advocating for those who want to stay.

The group's assistant director of activism, Chad Reese, said residents should have the option to stay put.

"They want to stay in their homes; they currently own their homes, and Onondaga County does not have the right to tell them they're not allowed to live in those homes anymore," Reese said. "Whether or not there is someone who is agreed to as a company move into space next door or not, should not affect whether or not those residents are allowed to stay in their homes."

Reese said there might be a slight ray of hope for the residents: minutes from a county legislature's economic development committee meeting in July indicate they don't have an agreement with two property owners, and officials "do not need these properties to move forward with the project."

"Now, if that is the case, they should immediately drop these properties from the threat of eminent domain that they passed back last August," Reese said. "I can't imagine a situation in which they would then not also then be comfortable letting people who did not want to move from Burnet Road move back into their homes and allow folks to restore the community that Onondaga County has frankly worked very hard to destroy."

County officials also revealed at the July committee meeting that they had not commenced eminent domain proceedings, at least for now. Doing so would trigger a public hearing and possibly litigation. Additional property owners who've gone public with their concerns were not immediately available for an interview about the announcement.

Homeowner Britta Serog said in an email that she and her neighbors are unsure of the future since they still own property within what the county claims as White Pine. She said they haven't contacted by the county, but others have been pressured to sell. Serog said she is sad to see the loss of rural communities and farmland.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at