Eminent domain legal case on county agenda: Victoria TX Advocate, 2/4/07

Apartment owners unable to agree on price for property

By David Tewes

The future of the Town House Apartments near Citizens Medical Center could be at stake when the Victoria County Commissioners Court meets Monday to decide whether to file an eminent domain lawsuit.

County Judge Don Pozzi said the commissioners court would probably meet in closed session at 10 a.m. in the courthouse before reconvening in public to vote on whether to pursue legal action. The apartments are at the intersection of Red River Street and Hospital Drive.

Pozzi referred questions about the pending legal action to the county's counsel, Kevin Cullen. "I'm hesitant to comment prior to the time we make a decision," Pozzi said.

Cullen said the county and the owners of the apartment complex have been unable to agree on a price for the property, which would be used by the hospital for parking. He said those negotiations have been going on for 18 months or more.

"We have made an offer of over $500,000," Cullen said. "I have never received an offer from them in writing. But in our discussions, the lowest price I'm aware of is over $1 million."

He said the county's offer is equal to the highest appraised value in the last 10 years.

The 2006 appraised value listed on the Victoria County Appraisal District Web site is $257,070. The site also lists 9632 Partners Ltd. in Houston as the owner.

Cullen said if the commissioners decide to use eminent domain to acquire the property, it would be as a last resort. "We certainly can't pay three times the value of the property."

Victoria TX Advocate: http://www.thevictoriaadvocate.com