City to consider eminent domain on resident's property

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The Craig City Council will make its second attempt Tuesday night to acquire property on Steele Street by eminent domain a process by which a government entity purchases private property at fair market value whether the landowner wants to sell or not.

In this case, landowner Sandra Baird doesn't want to sell. At least not at the price the property was appraised at.

The Craig City Council addressed a resolution to take her four lots by eminent domain in March. It was voted down unanimously. Council members said they wanted the negotiation process to begin in good faith before taking legal action.

More than two months later, they will consider the same resolution.

The meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the council chambers of Craig City Hall.

The city wants Baird's four 25-foot by 100-foot lots so it can extend Industrial Avenue into a through street, which would divert some of the traffic from Victory Way, city Public Works Director Bill Early said.

Baird said there have been no negotiations. An appraisal was completed on her property and that appraisal was made into an offer subject to Council approval.

Baird said she has several reasons she believes the price should be higher and would like to discuss those with a city representative. At this point, all actions have been taken through a Realtor. Baird said she has yet to speak to a city employee.

"We've been working through a Realtor, not through (City Attorney Sherman) Romney, and the Realtor couldn't answer all our questions or act on behalf of the city," Baird said. "This is how we've been treated all along and I'm very upset. I just want this settled."

Baird said the city first discussed using her property to extend Industrial Avenue eight years ago, so she hasn't been able to complete upgrades she'd planned or to convert the property into a business or rental property.

That lost time and income, as well as other issues, aren't reflected in the appraisal price, she said.

"I think it appraised is higher than they thought it would, but it's still not high enough given the house has set vacant for eight years," Baird said. "The problem is, I can't do anything until they do."

The city needs to acquire property from three landowners to complete the street. A deal has already been made with one of those property owners and Baird said the price she was offered was less than what the city paid for that property.

"I find that offensive," she said. "I would like to sit down at the table and talk to them and tell them what I want and why, but I haven't been given the opportunity."

Baird has hired an attorney, but said she has not threatened legal action.

The council will discuss the negotiations along with the "pending litigation" in executive session Tuesday.

"There's a chance we'll be in a lawsuit," Romney said.

Romney wouldn't comment on the negotiation process until he has spoken to the council.

"I'm not a curmudgeon. I don't walk around looking for trouble, but right is right," Baird said.

In other business, the council will:

Consider approving the renewal of a tavern liquor license for Mathers' Bar, Inc.

Mayor Dave DeRose will present youth with a citizen's award for helping with code enforcement cleanup.

Award a bid for the 2002 asphalt project.

Award a bid for mechanical fittings for the First Street water main project.

Hear the first reading of Ordinance 911 which modifies the city noise ordinance to extend the hours a permit may be granted for a weekend outdoor event using sound-amplifying equipment.

chance we'll be in a lawsuit.

rather not talk about it till talk to council.

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