Smart Path power project blocks farmer’s access to his own land

WWNY Smart Path power project blocks farmer’s access to his own land

TOWN OF MADRID, N.Y. (WWNY) - A New York Power Authority project is cutting through farmland. That can create difficulties for landowners.

Dan Doman, a town of Madrid farmer, cuts wood for winter every May. But not this year. He was shut out of his own woodlot.

"I haven't been able to get in because NYPA, the power authority, have been blocking my entrance," he said.

The New York Power Authority's Smart Path transmission project goes through the heart of his property. The authority has an easement that lets them work there. Doman says he wrangled with them for 10 weeks about getting into his woodlot.

"You know beggars can't be choosy. They're making me feel like a beggar on my own land and I really don't like it," he said.

This week, NYPA contractors moved a mound of dirt blocking the woodlot's entrance. They built a wooden timber off-ramp. They had offered money, but not enough, Doman says.

The Smart Path project is just getting started. It will run 86 miles, traversing St. Lawrence County. It will take three years to complete.

It runs through farm land and villages. It has an almost half a billion dollar price tag. NYPA says it takes seriously providing land owners access to their property. Here's part of a statement they released when asked about Doman's situation.

"The Power Authority has hundreds of miles of transmission lines crossing hundreds of landowners' properties and we work hard to establish and maintain positive relationships with them," NYPA said.

But Doman's worries are not over. He fears wood won't dry in time to burn for winter. That's why he cuts in May. And access to other parts of his land remains blocked.

"I told them I didn't even want the check. I wanted 80 face cord of wood put on my driveway. And keep your check. It's not about money. It's about survival over the winter," he said.

The Smart Path project was delayed by COVID-19 but its first phase is now in full swing in northern St. Lawrence County.

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