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News / Clark County News

Ridgefield City Council approves ordinance for eminent domain proceedings in roundabout project

City says negotiations to purchase property have been unsuccessful so far

By Shari Phiel, Columbian staff writer
Published: May 24, 2024, 5:12pm

The Ridgefield City Council took an unusual step Thursday when it unanimously approved an ordinance to begin eminent domain proceedings. The city has been in negotiations to purchase property at the intersection of Pioneer Street and the planned roadway of 50th Avenue, but those negotiations have been unsuccessful.

At the council’s April 25 meeting, Public Works Director Chuck Green said the property is needed to move forward with the Pioneer Street widening project, which includes a new roundabout at the 50th Avenue intersection. Green said the project will be ready to begin construction in June.

“We’ve been talking with them for at least a year and a half on acquiring this property,” Green said.

According to a staff report, the city hired a consultant to perform a property appraisal. Based on that appraisal, the city made an offer of $1.02 million. The property owners, Bart and Kathleen Arthur, countered with $3.29 million, the report said.

Green also said the Arthurs do not live on the property and that the residence is currently unoccupied.

“A lot of work goes on behind the scenes between the city and the property owners to determine a fair price for the parcel,” City Manager Steve Stuart said Thursday.

While rarely used, government jurisdictions can use eminent domain to acquire property under certain circumstances. The city will have to prove that acquiring the property is necessary for the widening project and that the project serves the public’s interest.

Approval of the ordinance doesn’t mean the city won’t continue working with the property owners to reach an acceptable price. Stuart said the next step would be to get a possession and use agreement between the property owners and the city.

“The possession and use agreement allow us to do the work that is necessary for the project while we are continuing negotiations, continuing the process of acquisition,” Stuart said.

However, if the city and the property owners can’t reach an agreement on a price, it will be up to the court to decide, Stuart said.

“The court takes all the information from the property owners and the city. Everybody goes before the court and they decide what the fair market value is,” he said.

While the city has begun similar proceedings in the past, Stuart said the city tries to resolve any issues long before it reaches court. In the 10 years he’s been with the city, he said officials have always been able to reach an agreement.

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This story was made possible by Community Funded Journalism, a project from The Columbian and the Local Media Foundation. Top donors include the Ed and Dollie Lynch Fund, Patricia, David and Jacob Nierenberg, Connie and Lee Kearney, Steve and Jan Oliva, The Cowlitz Tribal Foundation and the Mason E. Nolan Charitable Fund. The Columbian controls all content. For more information, visit columbian.com/cfj.