Even though the Leavenworth City Commission has approved a resolution for using a condemnation process for appropriating private land, officials have not named any properties they wish to acquire through condemnation, or eminent domain.
Leavenworth Public Works Director Mike McDonald said the resolution approved Tuesday night by commissioners is a step in a process that can be used to condemn private property in order to acquire the land for a Limit Street project.
The project would widen and make other improvements to Limit Street between 15th and 20th streets. The estimated cost for construction is $1.55 million.
Of about 23 easements needed for the project, the city has all but four of them. McDonald told commissioners it may be necessary to use the condemnation process for the remaining properties, but he said officials continue to work with property owners.
McDonald said Kansas law prohibits the use of eminent domain for economic development purposes. But the law does not prohibit its use for things such as roads and sewers.
He said the city is not looking to acquire entire lots. He said the land needed for easements may be eight to 10 feet wide and 200 feet long in some cases. He said some may be small triangular-shaped pieces of land.
He said some of the easements that already have been acquired involve properties that he characterized as inconsequential.
"I would say these (properties that remain) are legitimately consequential," he said.
As part of the process of acquiring the easements, the city has made offers for the properties.
"We have to make them an offer based on an appraisal," McDonald said. "And they can make a counter offer."
He said the city hired an independent third party to make contact with the property owners.
If the city proceeds with condemnation, or eminent domain, commissioners will be asked to adopt an ordinance. McDonald said commissioners will be provided a list of the affected property owners and legal descriptions of their properties.
If the commissioners adopt the ordinance, a lawsuit would be filed in district court to seek condemnation of the properties.
Typically in such cases, a judge will appoint three appraisers to look at the properties in question and make recommendations, McDonald said.