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Some Yorktown residents oppose leaving homes for new development

Posted at 3:17 PM, Aug 23, 2018

YORKTOWN, Ind. -- Some Yorktown residents may be forced to sell their homes under eminent domain so the town can build a downtown redevelopment.

80-year-old Janice Ross was one of the dozens of people who showed up at Yorktown High School Wednesday to discuss the proposed development known as the Canal Street project. 

"I was hoping to spend the rest of my life," Ross said. "Now the town wants to take it away from us."

Ross is also worried about her neighbor 90-year-old Ruby Martin who is blind and does not want to move out of her home,

The project was officially announced in 2016. The town plans to buy 28 parcels involving 22 homes. Yorktown believes investing 12 million dollars will return 48 million dollars. 

Yorktown Town Manager Pete Olsen said it's important to have a conversation with the people who don't want to move out. 

"There may be an opportunity to work with them while they stay for a while," Olsen said. "If we don't start on a project we are never going to do anything."

The town wants to start the project by the end of the year at the earliest. Officials believe it's the key to the downtown revival and future economic survival. 

Some homeowners called on the Virginia based advocacy group Institute for Justice to help them take on the town.

“Just because these families don’t fit into the town council’s idea of what downtown should look like they should not be kicked out of their home, that's not right," said Melanie Benit. Benit is an activism manager with the not for profit group.

Dozens turned out at Yorktown high school to discuss this controversial issue. More than 20 people voiced their concerns either in favor of or in opposition to the plan.

Ross addressed the audience. The town is taking her to court since she has refused to accept the town’s home purchase offer.

“I want to fight against it for myself and my entire town eventually.”

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