Bills stadium in Old 1st Ward?Rumors over letter

Posted at 10:40 AM, Sep 25, 2015

Is the new stadium for the Buffalo Bills heading to the Old First Ward? A letter from a New York City law firm has caused quite a stir for homeowners.

A letter alerted homeowners in the Old First Ward neighborhood that their property was being considered for acquisition to make way for the "Buffalo Bills Stadium Relocation."

Read the letter at the bottom of this story

"What would you think if your grandmother got a letter like this and she thought her house was going to be taken away?" questioned Laura Kelly, Director of the Old First Ward Community Association.

Real estate broker David Weitzel was given the letter by a client who lives in the neighborhood. "They honestly thought it was legit," said Weitzel. "She mentioned the Buffalo Bills might be buying her house. I thought it was odd. It seemed to be pushing a fear factor that someone might be losing their house."

The letter was addressed to homeowners on Miami Street and South Park Avenue in one of the areas previously identified as a possible location for a future Bills stadium. That letter was sent by New York City Law Firm Goldstein, Rikon, Rikon & Houghton and states, "the acquisition of any property would likely occur through a process called eminent domain... even if the owner does not wish to convey title." It also advertises the firms services and experience in eminent domain law.

"It's false, it's misleading and it's scare tactics," said Councilman David Franczyk from the Fillmore District. "It's a sleazy way to drum up business and it's fake."

Franczyk is concerned about the letter and its claims about the potential use of eminent domain. "There is no plan of any kind for the City of Buffalo to do eminent domain for a new Buffalo Bills stadium in the Old First Ward or anywhere else. There is no site that has been definitively determined."

Goldstein, Rikon, Rikon & Houghton released the following statement late Thursday afternoon: "The September 16, 2015 letter sent to various property owners regarding the Buffalo Bills Stadium Relocation was premature and sent in error. We are not aware of any plans for the use of eminent domain in the near future."

Franczyk tells 7 Eyewitness News Anchor Jeff Russo that he has filed a resolution in the Common Council that asks the law department to look into the letter. It will be addressed in the Common Council meeting next week.




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