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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : latest news : local November 24, 2015

7/17/2014 11:15:00 PM
Cottonwood may go condemnation route to complete 12th St.
Cottonwood needs easements for a sidewalk and drainage easements to complete the northern segment of the 12th Street re-construction. VVN/File photo
Cottonwood needs easements for a sidewalk and drainage easements to complete the northern segment of the 12th Street re-construction. VVN/File photo

Jon Hutchinson
Staff Reporter

The Cottonwood City Council Tuesday approved a resolution that would allow the city to condemn small sections of 12th Street property. The resolution allows the city to acquire the easements through purchase or eminent domain.

Even though the measure is not exclusive, the council identified property owner William Drake as the lone hold out. The city needs the easements for a sidewalk and drainage easements to complete the northern segment of the street re-construction. The property owner is the only one of 39 property easements to resist settling.

City officials say the project has been "remarkably successful" in acquisition of the needed easements for the entire roadway length.

The council was told that difficulties in reaching a settlement led the city to allow more time for settlement by splitting the 12th Street construction into two separate contracts for the southern and northern stretches of the street.

Cottonwood City Attorney Steve Horton said the resolution is intended to "initiate the process to engage the property owners in discussion."

City Manager Doug Bartosh said discussions have been ongoing for over a year to reach agreement with this single property owner.

Morgan Scott, the City's Assistant Development Services Manager, has been leading the negotiations. Bartosh said Scott is the most accommodating staff member and is puzzled at the "mixed messages" and "uneven responses" he is getting. But, he did indicate that property elevations were a concern. The roadway changes will raise or lower the road in some cases.

Councilman Ruben Jauregui wanted to make sure that by approving the resolution, the action "does not close the door" to further negotiations.

Bartosh said there have been several meetings and the homeowners were offered many property improvements. The city finally had the property appraised and it was valued at $6,000.

At that point, the property owner hired a lawyer who specializes in condemnation matters and the city subsequently did the same.

City officials say the bottom line that the court would look at is "just compensation."

Mayor Diane Joens, said, "We have to weigh what is good of the majority. Of all the street work the city has done during the past 10 years, this has never happened to us before. We ran into so much resistance, we had to redesign the road."

Jesse Dowling, who works for the project engineer Tom Pender, stepped down from the discussion and vote. All except Tim Elinski voted in favor of the resolution. Elinski just said he didn't like the approach.


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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Article comment by: Mary Heartman

I totally agree with Councilman Tim Elinski. I don't like the approach, either, and I hate the president this sets.

Property owners should not have to justify their disinclination to part with even a part of their property. There are better ways to reach a settlement than to whack dissenting parties with an ax.

If an agreement can't be reached, curve the road around them. The world will not end if 12th Street isn't "improved" by a given date.

Posted: Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Article comment by: uncommon sense uncommon sence

Eminent Domain to put in a sidewalk?Sounds
like overkill.I remember when people lost
thier homes to put up a Walmart in new england as it was in the cities best interest.
I don't know if sewers were put in but that would be next move.Pay twice for the same water.

Posted: Monday, July 21, 2014
Article comment by: William & Rebecca Drake ( NOT THE ONLY ONE )

We would like to add to the mayor's comment about having to redesign the road. When all of us on the north end of the road received our easement requests last June 2013, that is when we all found out what the road elevations were going to be. Our main resistance was to the raising of the road so high. The road has not been redesigned since we first were privi to the current plans. We had several meetings about it with City Officials. We and other north end land owners asked the City to not raise it so high, but they refused. They have drawn up other plans and ideas for our wash and Mr. Denny's driveway, but the road has never been redesigned. I heard through the grapevine that it may at one time been even higher in sections, but that was before any of us landowners saw the current plans.

The plans 12th Street residence voted on during public meetings way back when (2012?-2011?) were aerial views of 3 proposals with no elevations (and the raising of the road was not discussed ).

Posted: Monday, July 21, 2014
Article comment by: William & Rebecca Drake ( NOT THE ONLY ONE )

The resistance from several north end property owners on 12th Street is because they want to raise the road so high.They are truly impacting some properties in a negative way. First, we are NOT the only ones that have not signed yet. The claim that we are and calling us out by name is intimidation tactics by our local politicians. Can you believe it! The paper should also do their job by finding out the facts. Most people do not realize the City Officials road design calls for RAISING the road 6' in front our neighbor and 4' at our driveway by the wash. They want 1700 square feet in easements from us. The "improvements" they are offering the homeowners are solutions to the problems they are creating, like a 10 foot drop off into a wash when you drive in my driveway. The City wants a 1262 square foot permanent drainage easement around our existing wash. The wash should be their responsibility because they are changing the natural topography of the road. Currently, if it floods the water goes over the street. One homeowner said she would never sign and the owners of the vacant land across from us told the City they will never sign and will help them with the condemnation process. (they are possibly selling to Sears.) At the City Council Meeting of July 15th, I quote from the minutes: "The City requires certain easements over a very small portion of a parcel of real property known as Yavapai County APN 406-05-038 in order to construct the second phase of the 12th Street Improvement Project (among a few other easements that staff is still working to obtain)"

Posted: Sunday, July 20, 2014
Article comment by: Is 12th street going to have Bike Lanes?

Considering Cottonwood is a Bike Friendly town and this will be a main bypass artery connecting two parts of town, I assume bike lanes will be put in. Being a former bicyclist myself, I don't mind sharing the road with bikes. But there has to be either lanes wide enough for bikes to share the road with cars, or separate bike lanes.

I would hope that the Cottonwood Bicycle Advisory Committee has been working with the city on this project to ensure bicyclists safety.

To those who don't want to see 12th street to be a main artery, I suggest you read "Who Moved My Cheese." It's a short read, and available online.

That being said, I too would not want a freeway in front of my house. That's why I carefully picked my house with a eye to the future. Even though I recommend the "Cheese" book to Mr. Drake, kudos to him for standing up for himself.

Posted: Thursday, July 17, 2014
Article comment by: No Freeway

Perhaps Mr. Drake does not want a speedway, freeway in front of his property. Perhaps he doesn't want sidewalks. That just invites walkers and dogs and kids and bikes. Perhaps he doesn't want his driveway going up hill if the road is to raised above his property.

Maybe this one property owner wants to keep 12th st a neighborhood street and not a main connector. Perhaps he can sell and get full price for his property and not just an eminent domain settlement.

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