Stillwater City Council members were excited to hear about a concept that would allow the city to acquire land it needs to build a new road connecting the Armory and Fire Station site to County Road 12—without using eminent domain.
The estimated $6.9 million Fire Station and Armory Project requires a new public road that will connect Boutwell Road just east of Newberry Court North to County Road 12 at Maryknoll Drive.
The issue? The aforementioned intersection is on property owned by Tom and Karen Garley.
The city entered into negotiations for the necessary roadway property quite some time ago, Community Development Director Bill Turnblad told the council. There was no interest in selling, so an eminent domain proceeding was planned.
But the Garleys have since reconsidered.
“This proposal would alleviate the city from the necessity to do the eminent domain procedure, and I think everyone would win with that,” Turnblad said. “As you all know, if you have to go through an eminent domain proceeding, cities always pay remarkably more for land than fair market value. So we gain, the Garleys gain and I think it’s a win-win.”
The Garleys are proposing to sell the necessary land and temporary construction easement to the city at fair market value in exchange for two homes that will be relocated to two new lots they would create on their property.
The details of the lots for the new homes are still being worked on, Turnblad said. The land to be sold to the city appraised for $25,100.
“Eminent domain proceedings are a messy, expensive business and we can avoid that hopefully,” City Administrator Larry Hansen said. “Even though we’re giving up two houses and paying market value for the land we’re acquiring, we’re foregoing the expense of having to demolish those houses.”
The last house the city demolished cost about $12,000, Hansen said.
“You’re saving $20-25,000 in demo expense,” Hansen said, “and coming out to an agreement with one of our citizens that appears to be a win-win.”
City staff will work on an agreement with the Garleys and bring the proposal back to the City Council to consider for approval.