Dacono abstains from eminent domain: Longmont CO Times-Call, 10/25/07

By Kacia Munshaw

The Dacono City Council will not use eminent domain to seize 2 acres of land that is part of Clem Dufour Park, saying it doesn’t want to spend more taxpayer money on the issue.

Ron Warner purchased the property from Union Pacific in February for $6,400 after he discovered the city didn’t own it. The property cuts through the park, its ballfields and the parking lot of the BMX track.

The city originally offered to buy the land from Warner at an appraised value of $47,000. Warner declined, saying the offer was too low, considering he has $93,000 invested in the property.

“The biggest issue for council is that we don’t want to pay for another appraisal and we don’t want to pay his price,” town administrator Karen Cumbo said Wednesday. “No one else is going to buy this land.”

She said the city would rather not pay Warner anything and see what happens. The city has already found two locations for a new ballfield, which could cost between $60,000 and $100,000 to build, Cumbo said.

Through eminent domain, the city has the right to seize the land after a second appraisal of the property paid for by the city. The final price of the sale would be determined in a court hearing.

“In my opinion, there is only one buyer for this property, and that buyer is the city of Dacono,” Mayor Wade Carlson said during the council hearing Monday, when the council voted 3-2 vote to not use eminent domain.

Council members Kay Cole, Sandra Tucker and Michelle Burns voted against the motion to exercise eminent domain. Charles Sigman and Tom McCune voted in favor.

The council members in favor of eminent domain said the issue is a serious problem that needs to be rectified.

“Sooner or later, we are going to have to pay for this appraisal,” Sigman said. “I would rather take care of it sooner rather than later.”

However, his opinion was in the minority.

“We shouldn’t be spending the city’s money on this right now,” Burns said. “(Warner) bought it under speculation, and he should sit on it. We have other things to worry about than playing games with Mr. Warner.”

The council did not say if or when it will revisit the issue.

“We are all really in agreement that we should own the land,” Carlson said. “The only disagreement is how to proceed.”

Contacted Tuesday, Warner said he had no comment on the council’s decision. He also didn’t return a call Wednesday.

Longmont CO Times-Call: http://www.timescall.com