Lilburn council may use eminent domain for trail: Gwinnett County GA Daily Post, 11/15/06

By Alicia Johnson

The city of Lilburn may soon be claiming eminent domain to complete the Camp Creek Greenway trail after the City Council approved a declaration of taking resolution Monday.

The city has been in negotiations for the last six months to purchase rights-of-way and easements through nine properties, but have been unable to reach agreements with the owners. Monday’s resolution is the first step in condemnation proceedings for the nine properties.

“This is not something we want to do,” Mayor Jack Bolton said. “This will allow us to use this tool if we have to, but we are still hoping to come to an agreement with the property owners.”

The council hired a state-certified appraiser to value the property and has made offers based on those appraisals. Recent counteroffers from property owners are still far from what the city is prepared to pay, in some cases double.

“I believe I am being reasonable,” property owner Jeff Krueger to the council. “Your representatives are not. The appraiser valued just the strip of property you want to take without consideration of what else is on the property. This trail will pass within 2-feet of the back of my building.”

Council member Ken Swaim voted against the declaration of taking.

“I am against condemnation, but I am for the walking trail,” Swaim said. “I know it seems like a contradiction, but it isn’t. I just don’t like eminent domain.”

The council began working on the greenway in 2004. The planed 4-mile trail will travel along Camp Creek beginning at Rockbridge Road and traveling through the city and Lilburn City Park and end at Arcado Road. The first section will be from Lions Club Park to Lilburn City Park and is expected to cost approximately $1.4 million to complete.

Gwinnett County GA Daily Post: http://www.gwinnettdailypost.com