Saltaire Board Votes to Seize World War II Vet’s Property by Eminent Domain

Saltaire Board Votes to Seize World War II Vet’s Property by Eminent Domain

Saltaire Board Votes to Seize World War II Vet’s Property by Eminent Domain

Eighty-eight year old Frank Whitney is a World War II veteran. He’s also the owner of Saltaire Market, a grocery store slash deli, liquor store, and ice cream shop. He’s owned the market, located in the village of Saltaire on Fire Island, New York, for 25 years. Then along came Hurricane Sandy, damaging the store, followed by the village’s seemingly predatory Board of Trustees.

Frank Whitney and his Saltaire Village Market
Frank Whitney and his Saltaire Village Market

The board insists that Mr. Whitney’s property, the only commercial property in the village, was so extensively damaged from Sandy that he cannot possibly rebuild the market on his own. They claim Mr. Whitney lacks the means to repair the damage, and that his submitted repair plans are either insufficient or incomplete, and thus it requires intervention by them. They say:

“Throughout the past year we have been trying, without success, to engage the Whitneys in substantive discussions to advance what they now claim to be their primary objective, which is to renovate and continue to operate the market. That said, however, at various times they have clearly stated their inability or unwillingness to undertake the renovation requirement and despite statements to the contrary, no building plans or architectural drawings of any kind have ever been presented to the Village for review.”

If reports are accurate, the board has contradicted itself asserting that (1) the plans Mr. Whitney submitted are insufficient, but also that (2) no plans have been submitted. So which is it?

Mr. Whitney begs to differ. Though he was denied a state grant, Mr. Whitney insists he has the means to go ahead with the repairs, but says the board is standing in his way. He asserts the needed repairs are relatively minor compared with other damaged buildings in the area whose applications for repair have been quickly approved (see video of Mr. Whitney’s full argument here). Further, Mr. Whitney’s son insists “Four engineers, including two commissioned by the village, reviewed the storm damage on the market and ruled that it was not ‘substantial.’”

Despite this, following its own rejected application for a 1.5 million dollar state waterfront-improvement grant three weeks earlier, the board voted unanimously to seize Mr. Whitney’s property by imminent domain, ignoring commissioned reports from both sides stating the property incurred significantly less than fifty percent damage from the storm. But it gets worse.

In order to pay for the seizure of Mr. Whitney’s property, Saltaire Mayor Robert Cox III said the board will need to do one of three things: sell off property, float a bond, or raise the taxes of the 400 villagers—few of whom appear to agree with the decision of the board—to the tune of 2.5 million dollars. The residents are not happy:

“‘There is almost nobody I have spoken to in the town that supports this eminent-domain action,” said best-selling author David Fisher.’”

“Actress Kathleen Butler, who has summered in Saltaire for years, called the move ‘disgraceful, absolutely disgraceful.'”

Seems that the (not-so-trustworthy?) trustees of the village of Saltaire are following in the muddy footsteps of other dubious land seizures, you know, for the public’s best interests (or is it their own?). Collectivist legislators in the People’s Republic of California are sponsoring a bill that would do the same, for any reason, but on a statewide level.

Though the citizens of Saltaire, N.Y. are indeed voicing their concerns to the otherwise tone-deaf board on behalf of a World War II vet, the greedy land grabbers are nevertheless fighting to seize Mr. Whitney’s property in Brooklyn’s Appellate Division. So much for respecting our veterans. Californians, you’re up. Property rights? Or crony capitalism?

Here’s Mr. Whitney recalling his WWII experience:

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  • GWB says:

    the only commercial property in the village

    AHA! This is the little key I hadn’t seen in the other article I read. His little spot of capitalism offends their communit sensibilities. Here’s what they want to do with it, according to the Blaze article:

    so they can build a municipality-owned market

    Collectivists, indeed!

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