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Edmond turns to eminent domain to get easements

EDMOND — City officials have turned to the courts in hopes of getting three parcels of land so they can proceed with improvements designed to alleviate traffic problems at Bryant Avenue and Covell Road.

Eminent domain proceedings were filed this month by the city against Charles and Stacie Michael for one parcel of land and RAK Properties Inc. for two other pieces of land.

“We have made our offers and they have been rejected, so it is moving through the legal process,” said City Engineer Steve Manek. “We still lack three parcels of land.”

The Michaels' case is scheduled for Sept. 20 in Oklahoma County District Court. The RAK case will go before a judge Sept. 30.

The court will appoint three disinterested landowners of the county as commissioners, said City Attorney Steve Murdock.

The commissioners will file with the court a report on what the land is worth.

The city and landowners will decide if they agree with the findings of the court-appointed commissioners.

“We could settle,” Murdock said. “There could be a jury trial or there are a lot of other possibilities.”

City council members in May approved resolutions declaring the necessity for acquiring the properties for public use and authorizing acquisition by eminent domain.

Plans are to build left turn lanes and left turn signal phasing in the intersection where traffic often backs up, especially in the mornings and evenings.

What's needed

Six parcels of land were needed for the right of way at that intersection, Manek said. City officials were able to negotiate for three of those easements for a total of $160,355, Manek said.

“As the public knows, we have been trying to make major improvements at those intersections and we regret we have to resort to this technique to acquire the appropriate right of way on Bryant,” Mayor Charles Lamb said.

City officials are planning to make similar improvements at Covell Road and Santa Fe Avenue.

Plans at both intersections are considered short-term improvements because Covell Road is expected to be turned into a four-lane parkway throughout the city, officials have said.

The two projects are estimated to cost $1.5 million and will be paid from a special tax approved in 2000 for capital improvements.

All the easements for the intersection of Santa Fe and Covell have been acquired at a cost of $275,227.

City officials said they do not plan to delay the Santa Fe and Covell project if the Bryant and Covell easements are tied up in court, but they would like to do two projects at the same time.

At Covell and Santa Fe, city officials are finalizing alignments and agreements with private utilities, Manek said.

Diana Baldwin

Diana Baldwin has been an Oklahoma journalist since 1976. She covered the Oklahoma City bombing and covered the downfall of Oklahoma City police forensic chemist Joyce Gilchrist misidentifying evidence. She wrote the original stories about the... Read more ›

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