On Tuesday evening, a jury awarded Juston Waite, owner of Waite Auto Resale, $215,625 for a portion of property that the city took in 2003 through eminent domain, according to Knox County Court of Common Pleas Judge Otho Eyster. The property was used to complete the 2004 South Main Street project.
According to the Ohio Department of Transportation, the purpose of the project was to improve traffic safety in the area on Ohio 13 (Newark Road), from the intersection of Ohio 586 (Martinsburg Road) north to the south side of the bridge over Dry Creek. It included the construction of the new intersection at Ohio 13 and South Main Street, as well the widening of Ohio 13 from Ohio 586 to allow for center left-turn lane, and left-turn lanes at the new intersection.
The city acquired parcels from 21 properties in the area to complete the project, according to safety-service director Dave Glass.
Waite, whose property is located at 5 Newark Road, and Larry and Linda Helzer of Mount Vernon, who own property at 10 Newark Road, refused to accept the amounts offered by the city.
In May 2006, a jury awarded the Helzers $18,790 for 2,450 square feet taken from their property at 10 Newark Road. The original offer was $10,795, an amount based on a 2002 appraisal.
In a previous interview, Waite said the portions of the property taken from him and used for the project was worth more than the $65,200 the city offered. He said this amount was not comparable to the amounts given to other property owners who settled and sold the city portions of their property for the project. Waite also said he not only lost the property, but an eight-room home and an operating body shop which had been located on the property.
Waite had no comment about the amount decided upon by the jury.
Glass said the city administration is not happy with the decision.
“We thought we were doing the right thing for the people of Mount Vernon,” he said. “Unfortunately, the jury decided to award three times what it was appraised for.”
He said the administration will be looking into the various legal options that are available.
Mt Vernon (OH) News: http://www.mountvernonnews.com