City to use eminent domain for hospital: Springfield OH News-Sun, 2/16/07

City and Calcars, 202 W. North St., cannot agree on a sale price for Calcars' property. The city has offered $224,000.

By Samantha Sommer

The city of Springfield [OH] took the first step toward the first true eminent domain case involving the planned Community Mercy downtown hospital.

City commissioners approved Tuesday an ordinance declaring an intent to use eminent domain to acquire the Calcars property, 202 W. North St.

The next step is to pass an ordinance authorizing the city's lawyers to file the case in court.

The case probably will be filed in Clark County Common Pleas Court in 30 days, Deputy Law Director Andrew Burkholder said.

"It's really a disagreement over price," he said.

The city offered the owner, John Calcott of Aspen, Colo., $224,000 for the property.

Burkholder couldn't disclose what Calcott wanted but said the difference is substantial. Calcott couldn't be reached for comment Thursday.

The city is buying property in 45 acres downtown near Buck Creek to make way for a new hospital. It has purchased more than half the property in the entire area and 80 percent in phase one.

So far the city had used its eminent domain powers only to clear title problems for homeowners willing to sell.

An agreement still could be reached with Calcott, said Shannon Meadows, executive assistant to the city manager.

"I was hoping to avoid any actual court proceedings on any of the acquisitions," she said. "I still hope for that."

In other business, commissioners agreed to extend for six months a building moratorium on the Southwest Downtown Urban Renewal Area, including the hospital site.

The moratorium, first passed in 2004, allows for demolitions and repairs, but not new buildings or additions. The extension was necessary because of the proposed surgical hospital and where it would go, said Tim Gothard, director of engineering and planning.

Springfield OH News-Sun: http://www.springfieldnewssun.com