Council OKs settlement in sewer line land dispute
WILLMAR -- The Willmar City Council has approved a settlement to use a landowner's property for the new wastewater treatment plant's interceptor sewer line.
Under the settlement, the city agrees to pay $87,500 to Wallace Janssen of Willmar for acquiring a permanent easement and a temporary construction easement on 5 to 6 acres of Janssen's land along 28th Avenue Southwest and east of the intersection with 15th Street Southwest.
In exchange for the payment, Janssen agrees to the "full, final and complete settlement of all claims related to the taking of his land for the easement,'' according to the settlement.
The Janssen property is one of many properties that the city is buying along the interceptor route leading to the new treatment plant located five miles west of the city. City Administrator Michael Schmit said some of the properties are being bought in fee title -- meaning full title to the property -- and some as permanent easements.
The city's acquisition of 28 pieces of property for the interceptor route was approved by District Judge David Mennis in June 2008. The city made offers to property owners based on values set by the city appraiser, but owners were not prohibited from seeking damages that exceeded the city's appraisal.
Schmit said the city had appraised Janssen's property at $55,000, while Janssen's appraiser set the value at $136,000. Because the city and Janssen were so far apart, the court ordered both sides to attend a mediation session, which was held in mid-February. As a result of the session, the parties reached a tentative settlement, which Schmit, City Attorney Rich Ronning and City Clerk-Treasurer Kevin Halliday presented to the council during a 10- to 15-minute closed session Monday night.
The council returned to open session and approved the settlement. It includes the city's $55,000 offer and settles Janssen's request for reimbursement of some appraisal costs, attorneys' fees and future considerations on some land compaction issues.
The settlement will be paid immediately from the treatment project's financing package, said Schmit.