Sheffield Lake approves eminent domain: Lorraine OH Morning Journal, 11/15/06

By Megan King

[The Sheffield Lake] City Council last night unanimously approved an eminent domain action to take a piece of property from Shoreway Shopping Center on Lake Road. The city wants the land to use for overflow parking for a planned boat launch and expansion of Community Park.

Mayor John Piskura told council members that the Ohio Department of Natural Resources was ''adamant'' about having the parcel of property for overflow parking at the boat launch, which the city hopes to have open in June.

After negotiating with the Levin Trust, owners of the Shoreway Shopping Center, to lease or buy part of the property, the city opted for eminent domain as a last resort, according to Piskura. Eminent domain allows the city the take the property for the public good at a price determined by a court.

Law Director David Graves said the city had been unsuccessful in reaching an agreement with the owners. Council's vote last night is the first step in the process of acquiring the property, he said.

''This parcel makes the most sense and is the one the ODNR feels is appropriate,'' Graves said.

The parcel is 1.08 acres and its appraised value is $190,000, according to the resolution passed by council.

Graves said the city will now provide notice to the ownership and any other interested parties in the property and then council will have to pass another resolution to sent the process to Lorain County Probate Court.

Piskura said last week the case for an eminent domain action on the property was ''cut and dry'' because the boat launch parking area is clearly for a public use.

The city also hopes to have the shopping center itself redeveloped.

Piskura said in July the city made a $4.48 million offer to purchase the entire shopping center, but the owners countered with a $6.5 million price and said they were not in a position to redevelop the property.

Piskura had also proposed a plan in July to have the owners demolish the south end of the strip, make repairs to the parking lot and entrances, landscape the property to the city's satisfaction and install sidewalks on the south side of Lake Road. The city would have agreed not to pursue eminent domain and send would-be investors to the center's management.

The shopping center will be studied as part of the city's urban renewal plan to determine if the center is in a blighted condition and what may need to be done to develop it, according to Piskura.

The owners of the center are reluctant to redevelop it and redeveloping the entire center ''may require further court actions,'' according to an e-mail newsletter sent by Piskura last week.

Lorraine OH Morning Journal: http://www.morningjournal.com