County facilities vote is Tuesday: Payson AZ Roundup, 11/2/07

Storage owner at odds with county

By Erin Turner

Paul Pollock plans to live on Main Street for the rest of his life.

He and his brother, Robin, are building a home atop the Payson Mini Storage for themselves and their mother to share.

He likes the idea of having restaurants, shops and entertainment within walking distance.

His family has owned the mini storage for more than two decades.

There's just one problem with his dream - it coincides with the county's plan to acquire his land for the county facilities renovation project.

If voters approve the two ballot measures to fund the new jail and courthouse on the current site at Highway 87 and Main Street, the county would need to acquire land to the west, up to the Main Street Grille.

Pollock's mini storage sits between the Main Street Grille and Chris Smith Investments. His would be the last property acquired for the project.

"What they're asking the public to do is steal someone's private property, so they can save some money," Pollock said.

"We have future plans for this property. It is an ill-thought, ill-conceived plan. Why don't they put it somewhere where there isn't anything?"

Pollock said he opposes the county's plan to use eminent domain to acquire his land and the land to the east of his property, including the land Chris Smith Investments and Napa Auto Parts occupy.

"For eminent domain to work (the county) has to prove two things - that the project is essential and that where they want to build it, there is no other place to build it," he said. "They can't prove that. It's unthinkable." Gila County Supervisor Tommie Martin said besides Pollock, the other property owners are willing to relocate for the project.

"It's not about putting people out of business," she said. "It's about relocating them."

Pollock said he and his family plan to fight the county on the issue of eminent domain.

"We plan to vigorously challenge this thing," he said.

"If they pay me to leave, it's going to cost more than the whole budget they have for all of the properties," he said.

Martin said if the county is forced to resort to eminent domain proceedings and incurs that extra expense, the cost of the project would still be lower than other sites.

"It's still cheaper than buying another location and putting in the infrastructure and the 36,000 square feet that we're already in," she said.

Pollock said another issue he has with the plan is the lack of space for future expansion.

"(The county) is landlocked once they get this project done," he said. "Why can't they find a place where they're not landlocked?"

Despite the potential conflict with his property, Pollock said he supports the need for new facilities.

"I have nothing against the project," he said. "They just should've been planning all along. The objection is the county's bad manners, not the project."

Other objections from Citizens for Fair Taxation include:
  • The method of funding, or requiring taxpayers to foot the bill, rather than the county re-examining its budget.
  • The location on Main Street and the Beeline Highway.
  • Fair Taxation Chair Leon Keddington said the proposed location in Payson could be better used for commercial businesses or shops.

Payson AZ Roundup: http://www.paysonroundup.com

Imminent Eminent Domain Rip-Off Threatens California's Environment: California Progress Report, 11/2/07

By Gary A. Patton

Last year, Californians successfully fought off a statewide ballot initiative that used the rhetoric of eminent domain abuse to attempt to undermine a swath of laws protecting our health and environment. Well get ready; it looks like we'll have to fight even harder this year.

Wealthy owners of apartments and mobile home parks are currently collecting signatures to place another initiative on California's June 2008 ballot that they'd like you to believe is about eminent domain. And once again, they're hiding their anti-environment agenda. Tucked into the text of the initiative are provisions that would effectively prohibit laws and regulations that are intended to protect our air, land, water, and coasts from pollution, as well as laws that regulate development and prevent sprawl.

As if this weren't bad enough, the landlords are also using the populist issue of eminent domain reform in an attempt to wipe out rent control laws in California, hurting seniors, single mothers, veterans, and other working families who would lose the only housing they can afford.

A broad-based coalition of environmentalists, local governments, seniors, business, and labor has formed to defeat this measure – with PCL [the Planning and Conservation League] stepping up as an early coalition endorser and supporter. This coalition is promoting a strong, honest eminent domain reform proposal, which would prevent the government from using eminent domain to take a home to transfer to a developer.

The California Homeowner Protection Act doesn't have the hidden agendas or negative consequences of the landlords' scheme. But here's the problem: In order to qualify this measure for the June 2008 ballot, the sponsors need 1.1 million signatures by November 20. Currently they are about halfway to that goal. And while the landlords have money to spare for their signature gathering efforts, the California Homeowner Protection Act supporters are relying on volunteers to help get it over the finish line. That's where you, our faithful readers come in.

Please click here to sign the petition! An official petition that your family, friends, and co-workers can all sign will be mailed to you. Just be sure to mail it back by November 20.

Qualifying this honest eminent domain reform measure for the June 2008 ballot is absolutely critical if we are to defeat the landlords' Hidden Agendas scheme and its devastating impacts on our environment.

For more information, please visit www.EminentDomainReform.com.

Planning and Conservation League: http://www.pcl.org

Gary Patton is the Executive Director of the Planning and Conservation League, a statewide, nonprofit lobbying organization.

Airport looks to eminent domain to acquire property: Meadville PA Tribune, 11/2/07

By Jane Smith

Before the Crawford County [PA] Regional Airport Authority can remove obstructions at Port Meadville Airport, it needs a permanent easement from a property owner to take some of her land.

The authority filed an “eminent domain declaration of taking” in Crawford County Prothonotary’s Office Thursday, seeking the easement that will eventually allow pilots to have a clearer view of the runway when landing.

It plans to take over ownership of 6.6 acres of the approximate 29.25 acres owned by Marian Galbo along Cutter Road. The easement will allow removal of obstructions and provide air easements for navigational purposes.

In the petition for the easement, the authority noted it was not able to reach an agreement regarding just compensation for the land with the property owner.

“We offered the property owner $2,500 and we believe it is a fair price,” said Roy Brant, authority member. He said the airport authority is held accountable by the Federal Aviation Administration. One condition when the authority accepted the airport was the removal of trees that were obstructing the views of planes coming in from the west, said Brant.

He said there are restrictions on the height of the trees by the FAA and the trees on the land are higher than permitted. The offer made for the property was based on what the Bureau of Aviation was willing to approve, Brant said.

The property owner is exercising her right, and now the decision about how much she should receive will be up to the court, Brant said.

Galbo said Thursday she has “no comment,” and she referred questions to her attorney, Diane Adsit, who also declined comment.

Meadville PA Tribune: http://www.meadvilletribune.com

Council To Invoke Eminent Domain On K Street: CBSTV-13, Sacramento CA, 12/18/07

Sacramento city leaders have decided to invoke the use of eminent domain to speed redevelopment on the 700 block of K Street.

The Sacramento City Council unanimously voted to start the process of forcing owner Moe Mohanna to sell his properties. Mohanna has vowed to fight any measures to force him to sell his property.

"I don't want the government to have the right to take my properties and give it to someone else for their private use," says Mohanna. "I'm going to fight it. I will be there at the door, with the chain, waiting for the police to come and arrest me."

CBS13 correspondent R.E. Graswich has reported that the city is already talking with a Los Angeles developer to build on the property. Graswich says that the developer would receive about $24 million in redevelopment funds from the city for the project.

CBSTV-13, Sacramento CA: http://cbs13.com

Residents In Historic Areas Bothered By Blighted Designation: WTVF-TV5, Nashville TN, 10/30/07

Some Clarksville [TN] residents fear they will lose their homes.

The Clarksville City Council recently passed a redevelopment ordinance that lists six communities as blighted areas.

Don and Patsy Sharpe live in one of those areas.

The Sharpes fear the language in the ordinance gives the city the power to do what it wants with their historic home.

"By moving them into blighted that gives the subject powers of eminent domain," Don Sharpe said. "Private property can be taken from individual owners and transferred to the hands of private developers."

The communities are located in downtown.

City leaders said the term "blight" is required language in order for the city to receive special grant funding.

Frank Lott worked on the ordinance four years ago. The words "blight" and "eminent domain" can be found throughout the ordinance. The language is needed for future funding.

"There can't be any action that takes place without the property owners, essentially their consent and their willingness to say, 'I'm going to sell my property,'" Lott said.

Homeowner Lynnee Jellison agrees the language in the ordinance can be confusing but she doesn't believe the city wants to seize her property.

"No, no not at all because I own my home," she said. "No one is going to take my home and the city isn't interested in redevloping houses that are in good shape."

The Sharpes' home is also in good condition. If their home stays, they wonder what would happen to those that are made to go.

Individuals who drafted the ordinance said eminent domain exists regardless of the ordinance. City government has the power to deal with abandoned properties or those designated as "blight."

But the ordinance wasn't designed to buy homes.

Residents and city leaders attended a community meeting Tuesday night at the L&N Station. It was organized to help clear up confusion over the language in the ordinance.

WTVF-TV5, Nashville TN: http://www.newschannel5.com

Neptune's Shark River project dropped: Asbury Park NJ Press, 10/29/07

Township shuns use of eminent domain

By Bill Bowman

A combination of recalcitrant property owners, a slowing economy and the [Neptune NJ] township's refusal to use its eminent domain powers has forced the unofficial redeveloper of the Shark River North Channel area to drop its interest in the project.

Billed as turning the area along South Concourse and New York Road into a "waterfront gateway," the project's plans include building 145 condominiums, restaurants, shops and a public promenade.

But difficulty in getting some property owners to agree to sell their land - exacerbated by the Township Committee's refusal to use eminent domain to acquire properties - forced Paramount Homes to walk away from the project, company president Jeffrey Fernbach said.

"Without eminent domain, it's never going to happen," Fernbach said of the project. He said property owners will not negotiate if they know their properties are not subject to be taken by the township.

Fernbach said he hoped that his company could still do the project.

"We spent a lot of time, money and energy on it," he said. "We hope that something changes."

Fernbach told Michael Bascom, the township's chief financial officer, about his decision on Monday, Bascom said.

Bascom confirmed that Paramount asked the township to consider using eminent domain to acquire several properties - including a vacant lot that was targeted for an access point to the promenade - but the township refused.

He said Paramount's decision did not kill the project.

"We don't consider the project over," Bascom said. He said that other developers have shown interest in it.

First, however, the township will meet with the property owners to "discuss other potential developers," Bascom said.

He said that the township has already had an informal meeting with one developer who had stopped by the municipal building on another matter.

Committeeman Thomas Catley, who was mayor at the time the Shark River channel area was declared an area in need of redevelopment, blasted the Democratic administration for the breakdown.

"This is a major failure of leadership for the current majority and calls into question their stewardship of the entire revitalization process in Neptune," he said. "What this means is Neptune will miss out on much needed improvements to the appearance and economic viability of our Shark River waterfront, and the Neptune taxpayer will not reap the benefits of the tax relief that was to be a by-product of this development."

The project is also threatened by a lawsuit filed by the owner of Midway Ice and Fuel on Route 35 challenging the redevelopment area designation. The state Department of Transportation is requiring that Midway's building be removed from the median before it will approve the necessary realignment of the highway.

Asbury Park NJ Press: http://www.app.com

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