Archive for Tuesday, January 16, 2007

State, land owners settle disputes

Owners of shopping center, sites to receive payments related to widening project

January 16, 2007


Property owners at a northwest Lawrence shopping center soon will be getting checks - one for $317,000, the other for $50,000 - to compensate for property rights seized by state highway officials to help make way for a wider Sixth Street.

Westgate LC, Northland Venture LC and Domino LC all agreed to settle their disputes with the Kansas Department of Transportation over the price of a 25-foot-wide stretch of property along the south side of Sixth Street, east of Wakarusa Drive, for a street-widening project completed last year.

The property at issue - running in front of the shopping center that includes a Dillons, several smaller shops, a Peoples Financial Center and a Kwik Shop - remains owned by Westgate, Northland Venture and Domino.

The department didn't buy the land but instead acquired permanent permission to use the stretch for public purposes, such as sidewalks, street signs, underground utility pipes and other items.

Under terms of the settlements, however, the department now has confirmed that it will not use the property for an actual road - unless it first acquires the property as right-of-way, either through negotiations or condemnation.

The settlements, approved earlier this month, also include language outlining that the permanent easement would not hamper any future development at the corner. Westgate's partners previously had expressed concerns that the easement could have rendered the commercial site noncompliant with the city's zoning rules, therefore throwing the potential for an expanded Dillons or construction on a vacant pad site into jeopardy.

"This settles lawsuits, which is a good thing for everybody," said Jane Eldredge, an attorney for the property owners. "It means that the KDOT widening will not have had a negative impact on any expansion or redevelopment that takes place on those properties."

The settlements come after a Douglas County jury ruled, in July 2005, that the department had underpaid Westgate for the easement by $317,000. The department already had paid Westgate $260,000, and Westgate had sought $1.27 million.

The department had appealed the jury ruling to the Kansas Supreme Court, which had not yet ruled on the case. The settlement ends the department's appeal.

Northland Venture and Domino, owners of property closer to the intersection of Sixth and Wakarusa, had received $360,000 from the department; the settlement adds $50,000 to that total.

Managing member for Westgate is Tim Fritzel. Duane Schwada is managing member for both Northland Venture and Domino.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 5 months ago

I'll hand it to you, you've really perfected the pointless, stupid comment to a fine art.

jafs 11 years, 5 months ago

If these easements won't affect their ability to develop their property or the existing businesses, why are they getting >$500,000?

I believe individual property owners aren't compensated on this scale, if at all, for easements.

Sigmund 11 years, 5 months ago

This isn't an easement, this was a taking of private property something completely different. You might consider the Constitutional Rights of Property owners. The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which is part of the Bill of Rights:

"No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; *nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."

The issue here was what is the amount of "just compensation."

jafs 11 years, 5 months ago

Sigmund, the article states that they are gaining "permission to use the stretch for public purposes" - that's my understanding of the word "easement". In fact, it's referred to as an "easement" in the article. And, it states that the "permanent easement" would not hamper any development plans. Why do they deserve $500,000? In fact, one could argue that the uses proposed, ie. sidewalks, etc. will in fact help those businesses by creating easier access and more foot traffic.

When the city gets an easement to use a portion of privately owned property for utilities, etc. the individual property owner is not compensated, to my knowledge. Why should businesses be treated differently?

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