Efforts to expedite the condemnation of property for the city's alternate truck route failed when councilmember Robert Jurca refused to approve an emergency ordinance at the council's Feb. 21 meeting.
The ordinance ultimately passed, but not as an emergency which would have made it effective immediately.
Instead, a second reading and subsequent publication will be required for final adoption.
The city is exercising its power of eminent domain on property located south of Highway 348 between the Uncompahgre River and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks. A law firm in Florida serves as trustee for the owner, Family Household Trust. The city has tried to contact the trustee on numerous occasions with offers to purchase the property, but there has been no response. City attorney Mike Schottelkotte finally recommended the city exercise its power of eminent domain and he prepared an ordinance to move the condemnation process forward.
"I don't see this as an emergency," Jurca said. "We dragged our feet and now we're trying to cover our tracks."
"As hard as we worked to try to get this accomplished, I don't feel we're being unfair by declaring an emergency," councilmember Bill Raley countered.
Councilmember Guy Pfalzgraff said the ordinance should be adopted as an emergency because of the necessity to move forward with the contract with Sema Constructors. The notice to proceed for the first portion of Confluence Drive, the section north of 5th Street, is scheduled to be given April 1. The notice to proceed for the portion of Confluence Drive south of 5th Street, which includes the property in question, is scheduled July 1. In the meantime, a portion of the property to be acquired from Family Household Trust is to be exchanged with Union Pacific Railroad for the relocation of the railroad tracks south of 5th Street. City manager Joe Kerby says the railroad is reluctant to finalize the exchange agreement until ownership of the property is finalized.
"In order for us to stay on course, we need to have an exchange agreement with the railroad by April 1," he said.
Schottelkotte outlined the lengthy legal process which must be completed before the condemnation proceedings are finalized. "That could take two and a half months or longer, and that's getting you closer and closer to the deadline of July 1.
"The delay could have significant financial implications for the city, and that's a legitimate basis for an emergency," he said.
He apologized for lacking the foresight to move forward with the ordinance, and an accompanying resolution, prior to the city council meeting, but said this is the first condemnation action he's undertaken in his 40-year career as an attorney.
While four of the five councilmembers were willing to move forward, an emergency ordinance requires unanimous approval.blog comments powered by Disqus