Archive for Thursday, December 15, 2005

Main St. holdouts to receive checks for property easements

December 15, 2005

Most Main Street landowners holding out for more money for easements to their property will receive their final offers from the state next week, a state attorney said.

Representatives of 17 properties attended hearings before three court-appointed appraisers last week in the Lansing Community Center to argue for better prices for the easements on their property, which state transportation officials have deemed necessary to the Main Street System Enhancement project.

The next steps in the condemnation process are inspections of the holdout owners' properties and the filing of the appraisers' reports to the Leavenworth County District Court clerk, said Eldon Shields, attorney for the Kansas Department of Transportation in the suit.

The reports, due Dec. 23, will dictate what amount the state must pay each property owner. Once the checks are written, the title for each easement will automatically go to the state.

Most of the property owners represented themselves at the Dec. 7 hearings, while a few had attorneys argue their cases. From a list of 81 tracts, the state already had negotiated offers for all but those belonging to 17 property owners.

Shields said the state had been able to settle during the hearings with owners of three of those 17 properties listed in the state lawsuit filed in Leavenworth County District Court: Terry Roberts, owner of Roberts' Liquor, 619 N. Main St.; Rena and Harley Russell, owners of Lansing Pharmacy, 617 N. Main St., and the Leavenworth County 4-H Club, owner of the 4-H building behind Wood Oil, 109 4-H Road.

Hearings for Citizens National Bank and Jonathan, Charles and Barbara Hall were rescheduled for January after they filed for extensions.

David Chartier, another holdout who represented himself at the hearing, said it was hard to know if he would be given the money he wants for the easement to his property and the changes the road project will bring.

"It went as well as could be expected," he said.

Chartier said he was disappointed the state did not address the project's closing of his driveway at his home and business at 220 N. Main St.

Chartier said some of the property owners got "pretty irate" during the hearing.

"I was telling people, 'Don't get mad; stay on their good side,'" he said.

Randy Asher, owner of Main Street Motors and co-owner of Main Street Auto Body and Tow, 212 Main St., said after the hearing, "I don't think any of us know anything now that we didn't before."

Once the appraisers' reports are filed with the court and the checks made out, landowners will have 30 days to appeal their compensation, but the way will be clear for construction to begin.

The Main Street System Enhancement project is estimated to cost $11.3 million. Improvements include widening Main Street from Connie to Ida Street to include a center turn lane, rebuilding the bridge over 7-Mile Creek, reconstructing medians from Gilman Road to Ida Street and constructing a "reverse frontage road" north of West Mary Street to West Kansas Avenue. Construction is slated to begin in late spring or early summer of 2006, and is projected to take 18 months.

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