Expropriationprocess explained

Published on Thu, Feb 2, 2006 by ack Kintner

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Expropriation process explained

By Jack Kintner

Staff from the Government Services Administration (GSA) reviewed what they call the “acquisition and possession” process last week at a meeting at the Blaine Senior Center for people living in the neighborhood that’s scheduled for demolition to make room for expanded customs facilities at the Peace Arch border crossing.

The projected timetable for preparing the site for the new Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facility is to have the final Environmental Impact Study (EIS) ready by the end of March, and finalized after a 30-day comment period has passed.

“At that point we’ll begin the acquisition process,” said GSA’s Dee Jump, “by having your property appraised by someone who knows the area, then by making an offer in writing to you in May.” She said they hope to have site preparation done by December so building can begin early in 2007.

She said the property owner is allowed to be present when the appraisal is done but aside from a summary sheet cannot get a copy of the full appraisal. When asked how the appraisals take into account the rapid appreciation in property values that is happening in the area, Jump deferred to her GSA colleague Ron Webber, who said that the appraisal can be updated. “We try to act quickly,” he said, “so you can get your money out of your property to be able to move on.”

Once the letters go out with an offer to buy at the appraised price, property owners who disagree with the assessment may still negotiate with the GSA, but if there is no agreement then the matter is settled in Federal District Court.

Jump pointed out that if this happens, “The federal government takes possession of your property when the case is filed, and the money we feel it’s worth is available to you immediately. The court proceedings are simply to decide if the price is right.”

For more information contact Michael Levine, GSA’s regional environmental program manager, at 253/931-7263 or michael.levine @gsa.gov.