- File: Sean Metcalf
Officials at the Chittenden County Transportation Authority say it needs more room for a growing fleet of buses. More than a year ago, it expressed interest in buying property adjacent to its current garage on Industrial Parkway. Negotiations with Ryan Brothers Electric went nowhere. The family that owns the company, which has been in business for three decades, didn't want to leave its home in Burlington's South End.
So CCTA went to court in November 2013, seeking to take the Ryan's property by eminent domain. CCTA, which is chartered by the legislature as a municipality, invoked a little-used law designed to allow the state to seize farmland to construct the interstate highway system.
Michael Ryan, who runs the electric company, asked a judge to throw out CCTA's eminent domain petition.
"My client is very upset and disappointed. He would really like to stay where he is," Ryan's attorney, Liam Murphy, told Seven Days. "What CCTA is willing to pay for his property and what he can replace it for are two very different things."
UPDATE: In November, Ryan agreed to sell his building and land to CCTA, with a move-out date sometime in 2015. But that doesn't mean he's happy. "Life is too short," he said. "We could stay here for another two years. But then they don't pay me anything, and I have huge lawyer bills. In the end, nobody wins."
Officials at CCTA said the Federal Transit Administration, which provided grant money for the project, still needs to sign off before the deal is finalized. Interim CCTA general manager Paul Bohne said he expected that to happen within weeks.
Meantime, Bohne declined to disclose the sale price of the property. So did Ryan.
Whatever it is, Ryan said it's not nearly enough to cover the cost of buying a new home for the business, or building a new headquarters from the ground up. Commercial property is scarce and expensive in Burlington, and Ryan fears he will have to move to an outlying community, potentially losing his Queen City customer base.
"I agreed to an amount. I didn't want to, but it's come to the point where you can't fight," Ryan said. "I would much rather stay here."