Eminent Domain May End American Fork Land Dispute: KUTV-TV2 (Salt lake City UT), 7/10/06

Negotiations for private land needed for a new freeway connector have stalled and the city [of Pleasant Grove UT] may have to exercise eminent domain in order to complete construction.

The highway project is a five-lane road designed to connect the Interstate 15 interchange from American Fork to Lindon.

Talks will continue between the city and the Smith family for their land in American Fork, but only for a time, said city administrator Frank Mills. Construction has already begun in Lindon to avoid delaying the project and losing an estimated $5.2 million in federal funds, he said.

Stan Smith said his family refuses to work with Pleasant Grove because the city has not met their financial conditions for the more than 3,900 feet of land needed for the highway project. The city three years ago offered the family credits of $100,000 per acre that would go toward future improvements for development, but Smith said the family wanted cash.

“We cannot deal with the city because they cannot deal straight up and pay what the ground is now worth, three times what it was, and every day the price goes up,” he said. “The public needs the road, but it is not our responsibility to donate land.”

The stalemate could leave the city with no other choice but to use eminent domain.

“If they still say ‘no,’ the only other choice is to step in and condemn the property and the owners will receive fair market value for their land based upon current appraisals,” Mills said.

Mills said the city is carrying on with the project while negotiations continue.

KUTV-TV2: http://kutv.com