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Tuesday

July 2014

29

Plan Commission passes resolution on eminent domain

Fight continues over land sought for parking

City of Oconomowoc - The Plan Commission last week approved a resolution recommending acquisition of 219 W. Wisconsin Ave. The Common Council in January approved going ahead with employing eminent domain to claim the parcel after officials said negotiations failed between the city and property owners.

The city has been seeking the property to create a parking lot across from the new Community Center.

Mayor Jim Daley said the process has spanned about 24 months of meetings and a failed agreement for binding arbitration on the property owned by Ken Herro and John Haas. Daley said there were times in the negotiations when the city and the owners agreed on a price for the parcel.

Daley previously said the city has at various times offered $350,000 for the land, and the owner has agreed to the price and backed away. "There can be no accusation that the city did not negotiate in good faith with the property owner," Daley said at the Jan. 15 Common Council meeting.

Last week the mayor briefly reiterated the city's timeline of discussion and negotiations with Haas and Herro.

"During negotiations we thought we had an agreed-upon price, but they wouldn't budge, so then we tried to go into binding arbitration, which they also agreed upon several times, which brings us to present point," the mayor told the Plan Commission. "I also will say the most recent appraisal we relied on values it at $250,000, and our good-faith offer was higher.

They say it is worth between $400,000 and $650,000, which, to put it mildly, we disagree with," the mayor added.

According to Daley, Herro and Haas purchased the property for $150,000 seven years ago.

"So it's not like we are trying to take it away without them getting a profit?" asked Commissioner and Alderman Dave Nold.

Daley said no, adding "there are a lot of capillaries," to the issue.

"This really seems heavy-handed by people in the community, but I think given the circumstances and market we're in I feel comfortable. But the thought of taking property can't be taken lightly," said Commissioner John Gross.

Herro declined to comment on the matter.

The Plan Commission voted unanimously on the resolution recommending acquisition of 219 W. Wisconsin Ave.

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