According to Visalia Times Delta reporter Valerie Gibbons, in her October 20 article "Tulare County now wants 11 more parcels on Road 80," Tulare County is moving forward with condemnation plans for 11 properties in order to widen Road 80:
The county has been trying to acquire properties — many of which are in 40- to-60-foot-wide strips, and about a mile in length — since the beginning of 2008. Eighty-five other property owners along the route have reached sale-price settlements.
The widening project, designed to ease congestion between Dinuba and Visalia, has been planned for years. According to Sarah Jimenez of the Fresno Bee, funds for right-of-way acquisitions were secured in 2006. Regardless of the traffic problems the project is designed to alleviate, the County's decision to use eminent domain to acquire the final few properties along the right-of-way, is generating considerable controversy.
It’s a difficult decision to make, but the necessity is there, Supervisor, Dist. 2, Pete Vander Poel said.
County staff argued that without these parcels the Road 80 Project would be incomplete. The undertaking consists of widening Road 80 from two lanes to four lanes and creating a dividing center median from Goshen Avenue in Visalia to Avenue 416 in Dinuba that will improve traffic flow, alleviate flooding and improve access to Dinuba.
Based on the recent articles, it appears the disputes center not on the need for the project, whether the County should acquire it, or what the County is wiling to pay for the land it is acquiring. Instead, it appears that owners are concerned largely with severance damages and loss of business goodwill that they believe the project will cause. Of particular concern to some dairy farmers is that the loss of land will purportedly impact the number of cattle they may have on their remaining property, based on restrictions imposed by state waste-water treatment regulations.
It appears from its published Agenda for its October 27 meeting [PDF] that Tulare County may decide then whether it will expand the scope of the takings to include additional parcels (Ms. Gibbons' article indicates that three additional parcels are being considered).
Notably, even as it moves towards filing condemnation actions, the County intends to continue negotiations to acquire the properties voluntarily. In fact, the County reports that it recently began negotiating directly with the remaining owners in response to complaints that the relocation consultants the County hired were not adequately reponding to owners' concerns.
Rick Rayl is an experienced litigator on a broad range of complex civil litigation issues. His practice is concentrated primarily on eminent domain, inverse condemnation, and other real-estate-valuation disputes. His public ...
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