City seeks public input on land acquisition

Published on Wed, Oct 5, 2011 by Jeremy Schwartz

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The Blaine City Council will hold another public hearing on a proposed land acquisition in east Blaine after the landowner involved expressed concern over the city’s process for condemning his land.

Blaine public works staff want to extend utilities to east Blaine and are considering acquiring two properties via eminent domain to do so. The properties in question lie north of H Street between Harvey Road and the proposed Grandis Pond development.

The main purpose of the city’s acquisition of the land is to extend sewer services to east Blaine via a 30-foot-wide, 2,700-foot-long corridor that would snake across the two properties, Blaine public works director Steve Banham said. A new road serving east Blaine could also be built on the corridor as the area develops.

Banham said the corridor was designed to have minimum negative impact on the surrounding property owners. Public works staff still need to access the property to determine what exact route the corridor will take.

Banham said the city’s negotiations with the landowner, Bob Martin, have been unsuccessful, but Martin maintained the city has not made much effort to negotiate with him at all. Speaking on behalf of Martin at the September 26 city council meeting, Sally Veum said the city has simply told Martin his land will be acquired.

“The minimum negative impact is significant to one individual,” Veum said.

Martin’s family has owned the property since the 1900s, Veum explained. Martin is concerned with the speed with which the city wants to acquire his property in addition to the negative impacts utility construction could have on the
surrounding environment. The headwaters for Spooner Creek, which flows into Drayton Harbor, are on Martin’s property, Veum said.

Martin received a notice just one week prior to the city council meeting at which the public hearing was to take place, Veum said. Martin said he needs to be able to seek legal counsel before the city votes, but has been unable to because his lawyer has been on vacation.

Blaine mayor Bonnie Onyon assured Martin and Veum that the council would only have read the resolution authorizing the condemnation at the September 26 meeting, not voted on it. Onyon said the city will leave the written record for public comments open until the September 10 council meeting, at which another hearing will be held.

Representatives for Martin also asked public works staff if the city was in a hurry to acquire Martin’s land. Banham said the recently approved Grandis Pond development, and other developments in the works, are the reason for the city’s perceived rush to condemn Martin’s property.

Grandis Pond project manager Steve Price said the development has been in the works since 2005. The developers have held numerous public and community meetings about the development and have tried unsuccessfully to buy Martin’s property.

 

“We’ve been trying to move ahead for seven years,” Price said.