Avon council moves forward with eminent domain process for I-90 interchange

Avon

By Rebecca Turman

Avon City Council adopted 12 resolutions at a Monday regular meeting to “declare the necessity to appropriate land necessary for the construction of an I-90 interchange at Nagel Road.”

Councilman Bryan Jensen noted that approving the resolutions doesn’t stop anything in terms of continuing negotiations with the 12 property owners from whom the city needs to purchase land to build the interchange.

Avon Law Director John Gasior confirmed Jensen’s statement, adding, “This step has to be taken in order to go to court. This is a statutory requirement.”

During the meeting, several of the property owners spoke out about the negotiation process.

“We’ve applied with a response about eight to 10 pages, I believe to TranSystems,” David DiBenedetto said, adding he hasn’t heard back from the company.

The city is looking to acquire 8.39 acres from DiBenedetto along with another 2.45 for an easement, according to city documents.

DiBenedetto said he has issues with a fence he’s been told he needs to erect on his property, along with a gas easement.

“I’d like to sit down with them and see if something could be worked out,” he said.

Frank Root Jr., another property owner, said he hasn’t heard anything for two months in terms of negotiations. The city is looking to acquire 2.03 acres from him.

Gasior listed several dates in which Root was contacted regarding the property.

“The city went to $203,000,” Gasior said of the offer.

During the meeting, Gasior said it was his understanding Root was sticking with a counteroffer of $300,000. Root didn’t dispute that.

“The demand has never dropped below $300,000,” Gasior said, adding Root can continue to negotiate with the city.

“It’s taxpayer money that’s being spent,” Gasior said. “We are staying within some very strict guidelines. We have limits by the two appraisals that were already done. Our hands are tied to some degree.”

“To some degree,” Root responded

“You haven’t moved from your position,” Gasior added. “The door’s always open.”

The mayor ultimately makes the decision on counteroffers, Gasior said.

“I’m not going to take the chance of going double (what the appraisals call for,” Avon Mayor Jim Smith said.

“I didn’t ask for double,” Root added.

“We have to stick somewhere near the appraisals,” Smith said.

“I don’t know where they are coming from,” Root said of how the offer was determined.

Gary Nagel, of Grafton, spoke on behalf of the Nagel, Dietz, Haehn property the city needs to acquire, which totals 1.34 acres and .15 acres for an easement.

Nagel said the group of property owners has only talked to TranSystems twice. He said provisions need to be put in place for what’s going to happen to the ditch and drainage on the property.

Nagel said runoff water would be brought onto his property as a result of the interchange.

Nagel also took issue with the driveway access onto the property.

“At first, they didn’t want to give us a driveway,” he said. “Now they want us to take it down a 10-foot driveway.”

Regardless of the property owners’ engineering concerns, Gasior told Nagel council still had to take the next step in approving the resolution.

“Your comments are well-taken,” he said.

Smith commented he is aware of a “wet spot” on the Nagel, Dietz, Haehn property. He said it’s important to make sure the water will flow off their property.

“It will have to be addressed as part of the take,” Gasior said.

“The driveway is the No. 1 issue, along with the drainage,” Nagel said.

Gasior said the city could sit down with Nagel and try to work it out.

“So, you’re saying you’ll work with us?” Nagel asked.

“Absolutely,” Gasior said.

Since council has approved the 12 resolutions, copies will be sent to the property owners, who will then have 30 days to work with the city before the city files petitions to appropriate in common pleas court. However, Gasior noted at the Monday night meeting property owners could continue to negotiate with the city up until a judge/jury makes a decision.

Along with filing a petition, the city will have to deposit a check for each individual property with the court for the amount of money the city is willing to pay for the property, according to Gasior.

At the Nov. 1 work session, Gasior told council members once the check is filed with the court, the city can “treat the property as if it is ours.”

That is how the quick take process works, according to Gasior. Since it’s already been determined the interchange is needed for the public good, he said it is “clearly within the scope of eminent domain power.”

Contact Rebecca Turman at rturman@2presspapers.com

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