Eminent domain OK'd for hospital: Springfield OH News-Sun, 10/3/07

City is trying to acquire downtown properties to make way for a new medical facility

By Samantha Sommer

Springfield city commissioners approved Tuesday proceeding with eminent domain in the downtown hospital area.

The city is buying property downtown near Buck Creek to make way for a new hospital. Negotiations won't stop, Deputy Law Director Andrew Burkholder said.

"We're still glad to talk to those folks," he said.

Jennifer and Garth Robinson own properties on Baltimore Place, and Cliff, Plum and Cedar streets.

The city offered about $1 million for the 5 acres with 39,000 square feet in seven buildings.

The Robinsons' counter was $5.5 million, which Jennifer Robinson said came from the average the city paid other businesses.

The city's actions are disappointing, their lawyer said.

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

F.F. wants to improve and rent its properties, not sell, lawyer Gary Powell said.

Kuss was offered $80,000 and said he hopes to avoid court.

"I don't want to fight them, I just want to negotiate," he said. "So far they're not willing to negotiate."

Previously eminent domain has been used in the hospital site only for title problems.

"No one is offering zero," City Manager Matt Kridler said. "It's just a difference in numbers."

Commissioners also had a hearing and first reading to rezone the entire hospital site to a downtown medical campus district.

Tim Mara, lawyer for Save Our Springfield, urged commissioners not to rezone until historical and environmental reviews are done.

"You will further undermine the integrity of those processes," he said.

Commissioner Karen Duncan said she took offense to Mara saying the city only tried to look like it cared about the reviews.

"It is simply not true," she said.

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