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With agreement, city avoids use of eminent domain

September 19, 2018

Easements, redevelopment and public works projects were the highlights of Monday night’s Norfolk city council meeting. One issue was resolved only hours before the meeting, preventing a potential legal proceedings between the city and landowners.

The council was originally scheduled to consider approving the use of eminent domain on land needed for a series of public works projects due to an impasse with the landowners. But ultimately an agreement was reached.

“As of earlier this afternoon, an agreement has been made with the landowners,” said Steve Rames, city engineer. “Eminent domain is no longer necessary for this project.”

Eminent domain allows a government entity to use or acquire private property with compensation to the land owner.

Because of the agreements, the council voted to remove the items regarding eminent domain from Monday’s meeting agenda.

The council did hold public hearings and approved a number of easements for sewer main extensions and what’s known as the Raasch Dam Interceptor Project. Three easements were discussed publicly, and the city will pay the three landowners totals of $15,546, $10,920 and $3,400.

Also discussed at the meeting was a once-controversial apartment development at Victory Road and Highway 35. The developer, Dial Properties, submitted plans for the area. The complex would be 160 units in eight buildings as well as a commercial building nearby.

Mike Bacon, an attorney representing the developer, said the plans call for construction to begin next spring and the whole project should be completed in 2020.

Bacon said about a quarter of the apartments should be completed and ready for use by the end of 2019, while the remainder of the complex and the commercial building will be completed in 2020.

Council member Gary Jackson said that while he believes Dial Properties has acquired a negative reputation because of its management of the Sunset Plaza Mall, the developers of the apartments are an entirely separate arm of the company and shouldn’t be judged because of the mall.

The development plan was passed 7-1, with council member Jarad Dahlkoetter opposing.

Another development plan was also discussed. Scott Martin of Burns & McDonnell, a Kansas City-based construction company, updated the council and public on the Transfer Station Site Master Plan.

Martin said upgrades throughout the facility would help citizens and improve their experience with the site and the city. The plan is expected to take up to 2½ years to complete.

The council also passed an ordinance raising occupation tax on fireworks stands from $200 to $500, slightly raising transfer station fees per ton of solid waste and raising water rates by several cents.

The council also passed construction contracts with Elkhorn Paving Construction Company and Rutjens Constructions for $113,755 and $343,619, respectively.

A zoning change was also passed, changing an area south of the intersection of Benjamin Ave. and Victory Road for R-2 (One and Two Family Residential) to R-3 (Multiple Family Residential).

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