FERNDALE - Strips of some homeowners' yards along Church Road may be taken by court order so the city can rebuild the road.
Negotiations continue between Ferndale's Public Works Department and as many as nine holdout property owners on the mostly residential Church Road, between Main Street and Heather Drive. The city must acquire portions of properties along the road - by condemnation, if necessary - to complete a road-improvement project that would widen Church Road and add sidewalks.
In a condemnation, the city must pay a fair price for the property it is taking. If the two sides can't agree on a price, it will be set by a judge.
No houses or other buildings will be affected by the project.
While the road work is scheduled for 2014, the city must possess all the properties by the end of this year or risk losing a state loan of more than $1 million.
The city has already completed most of the deals needed to make room for the improved road. Officials had to come to terms with about 42 property owners, city project manager Katy Radder said.
Some of the property owners unwilling to sell probably will appear before the City Council at its Monday, June 18, meeting, Radder said.
Council members were warned at the Wednesday, June 13, Public Works and Utilities Committee meeting not to engage these property owners if they speak during the time set aside for public comments.
"We need to be very careful as council to not compromise any negotiations or potential litigation down the road," said council member Mel Hansen, who is mayor pro tem and would preside over discussion of the condemnation ordinance at Monday's meeting. However, Hansen owns property in the construction area and will excuse himself from that part of the meeting.
City Administrator Greg Young reinforced Hansen's message.
"What you really just need to do is nod and say, 'Thank you very much for your input,'" Young said.
Most of the project is still unfunded, but having all the properties in hand will make the city eligible for federal grants. The city's early cost estimate for Church Road is $5 million, including $850,000 for property acquisition.
ATTEND THE MEETING
What: Ferndale City Council will consider an ordinance condemning portions of as many as nine properties for the Church Road widening project.
When: 6 p.m. Monday, June 18.
Where: City Hall Annex, 5694 2nd Ave.
More information: Go to cityofferndale.org/council/agenda.php (posted by late Friday, June 15).
Reach RALPH SCHWARTZ at email@example.com or call 715-2261.