City officials move to condemn property |

City officials move to condemn property

Christina M. Currie

City attorney Sherman Romney filed a motion in 14th Judicial District Court last week to obtain property on Stout Street by right of eminent domain so the city can extend Industrial Avenue.

City officials hope the extension will to reduce traffic on Victory Way.

The Craig City Council passed a resolution in June allowing the city to exercise its right of eminent domain to obtain four lots city officials say are necessary to extend the street, but in the face of possible litigation, chose not to move forward to obtain the property.

Until now.

“The city has negotiated in good faith and offered a fair price for the property, but unfortunately, negotiations have not resulted in the necessary property acquisition,” City Manager Jim Ferree said. “It is important that we continue to move forward with this project in a timely manner as delays would likely result in increased costs.”

The process of eminent domain requires the city to offer a property owner fair market value based on an appraisal, which Romney said the city did, but that amount was turned down.

“The city obtained a certified appraisal of the property to ensure that an offer of fair market value was made, and just as importantly, the appraisal ensures that no more taxpayer dollars are spent for the property than is appropriate,” Ferree said.

The property appraised at $80,000, according to city officials.

Property owner Sandra Baird said she has been advised by her attorney to not comment on the case. She has said in the past she would be willing to sell the property if the city would offer the right price.

She believes she is entitled to not only the value of the property and the home on it, but the loss she has suffered from not being able to use or rent the property, and upgrades she has made.

The city wants all four of Baird’s lots for the street extension, and Baird is arguing only two are needed, which would leave the house standing, although it would be close to the street.

She said it is possible for the city to take two lots and make some adjustments to the house that would put it within the accepted setback requirements.

According to Ferree, the city has been unable to reach an agreement with Baird.

“Regretfully, it has become necessary to exercise the public’s right of eminent domain,” he said.

The extension of Industrial Avenue was listed in a 1982 traffic study as a way to ease traffic on Victory Way.

“We found the study, said we paid to do this and we should implement it,” Mayor Dave DeRose said.

Ferree said it has always been the city’s intention to extend Industrial Avenue to act as a collector street for traffic.

Last year the city was awarded a grant to pay for an estimated 50 percent of the project. The grant was for $173,675. The total cost for the purchase of property and the street expansion is estimated to be $305,000

Baird has said the city approached her in the early ’90s to talk about obtaining her property, but she was not approached again until this year. She said she has not been able to sell or upgrade the property in that

time because there was always a chance the home would be condemned.

The city had to negotiate with four property owners to extend Industrial Avenue. The city has negotiated for all but Baird’s and one other property for $42,500. Ferree said the city is still in negotiations for the final property needed.

Though the case has been filed, the city will not be able to take possession of Baird’s property immediately. Baird must be notified and no action can take place until 30 days after that has happened.

The city filed a motion for immediate possession, which means the court can award the city title to the property and require that a deposit equal to the amount of the appraisal is paid into the court registry.

Then a hearing will be held on the temporary possession request. Depending on Baird’s position, it could lead to a trial on the value of the property, Romney said.

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