Council considering eminent domain for downtown property : Bedford OH Record Courier, 8/2/07

By Matthew Fredmonsky

Eminent domain is a topic on the minds of some Kent City Council members for redeveloping a block of downtown despite some difficulties the land-seizure process might create.

Kent City Councilman William Schultz asked the city administration for a presentation on eminent domain regarding properties owned by the California-based real estate firm Right Dimensions.

James Satola, a senior attorney with the firm Squire, Sanders and Dempsey, which has been working with City Law Director Jim Silver on the issue, addressed council on the process of eminent domain and three key requirements for implementing private land seizure for public purposes.

City administrators requested a "resolution of necessity" from council to proceed with the eminent domain process, however, a council decision on the matter was not available by press time.

Satola said there are three primary requirements when initiating eminent domain.

"The first is that a public body ... engage in what are considered good-faith negotiations with the property owner to purchase the property or acquire the property through some other mechanism," Satola said.

The city must also show the public purpose for which the land is being seized and satisfy a legislative process which includes passing a resolution of necessity.

Satola said removal of blight is a condition of public purpose if it is part of a proper urban redevelopment plan.

"First you must exhaust good faith negotiations," Satola said.

Andrew Lombardo, the president of Right Dimensions, said prior to the meeting there has been little talk between the city of Kent and his firm for purchasing the properties.

"We've been trying to confront (city administrators) for some time," Lombardo said prior to the meeting. "And they don't want to, or have neglected to, have any conversations with us."

Lombardo said he intends to fight any action the city might take regarding the use of eminent domain to seize the firm's property.

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