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February 15, 2013

Decision coming soon on Jacob’s Well

Legal battle over ‘house of hope’ continues for nonprofit, Utica residents

(Continued)

UTICA —

Snelling and Graham said former town trustee Robert DeArk had been approached by a retirement community that was interested in the property but could not enter into a deal because it would violate the deed restrictions.

Graham added that the preservation group had developed a five-year masterplan to open up the building for use by the town. But now the residents feel the facility will harm the community, lower their property values and increase costs to residents because Utica will need to add police officers to monitor the site. 

“They haven’t done what they said they were going to do,” Morrison said. “It’s just going to be a big mess. It does not bring anything good to the town, and it’s still going to cost the taxpayers. We’re going to keep on fighting them. Every day they’re up there, they are going to have to worry about someone trying to get them out of there.”

If the deal is nullified, Lewis said Jacob’s Well’s owners will file a counter-claim to recover the $300,000 spent to rehabilitate the building.

“It’s going right back to what it was before,” Lewis said. “It’s going to devalue ... the surrounding property.”

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