City declares intent to use eminent domain: Springfield OH News Sun, 9/5/07

By Samantha Sommer

Springfield city commissioners declared Tuesday the intent to use eminent domain on several properties in the hospital redevelopment area.

The declaration is the first step in the eminent domain process and negotiations can continue, Deputy Law Director Andrew Burkholder said.

The city is buying property downtown to make way for a new combined hospital.

Jennifer and Garth Robinson own several of the properties — 231, 236, 238-240, 242, 246-248 and 250 Cedar St.; 220 and 236 Cliff St.; 318 Baltimore Place and 452-454 N. Plum St.

The city made two offers and hasn't received a counter-offer, Burkholder said.

"We are disappointed the city is taking this action during negotiations since we had just received the city's offer Aug. 2, 2007, after waiting months for the city's new appraisals," Jennifer Robinson said in a statement.

The other properties affected are 319 Cedar St. and 319-321 Baltimore Place, owned by F.F. Springfield; 202 W. North St., owned by Calcars; and 326-328 N. Plum St., owned by Thomas Kuss.

Commissioners also approved a study finding the Southwest Downtown Urban Renewal Area, which includes the hospital site, blighted.

It is the fourth study of the area and was prompted by court rulings changing the definition of blight.

The study found health and safety hazards and 67 percent of primary structures have major deterioration.

Fritz Leighty of Leighty and Snider consultants prepared the report. He said the area is one of the worst he studied.

The city has boarded houses there while awaiting federal approval to begin demolition. That didn't create the blight, Mayor Warren Copeland said.

"It was a neighborhood that had some pretty bad conditions over time," he said.

Tim Mara, a lawyer representing Save Our Springfield, sent a letter protesting the study's approval because he hasn't had a chance to see it.

"I can only assume that your haste is motivated by a desire to initiate the eminent domain process against remaining property owners before Ohio's new eminent domain law goes into effect (in October)," Mara wrote.

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