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Eminent domain bill might cost the public more money for projects

WILLMAR -- A bill in the Minnesota Legislature that's designed to curtail government's use of eminent domain for private economic development could have unexpected consequences for city and county governments.

Kandiyohi County Attorney Boyd Beccue told the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday that a provision in the proposed bill could drastically increase the cost of right of way that local units of government pay for public projects, like roads.

The bill was introduced to prevent private land from being taken and given to another private individual or entity for economic development.

But Beccue said a clause in the bill says that governments must pay the attorney fees for landowners if their appraisal is 20 percent more than the government's last offer. He said often the landowner doesn't provide the appraisal until the day of the hearing.

Without a chance for fair negotiations, he said cities and counties will end up paying a lot of attorney fees to landowners in right-of-way acquisition procedures for public projects.

Beccue said he's working with the Minnesota County Attorneys Association to get the wording in the bill changed.

The commissioners agreed Tuesday to donate $30,000 to West Central Industries for a recently completed construction project at the Willmar facility.

The commissioners turned down a request for donations last year when West Central Industries was seeking $300,000 for the construction project. The organization, which provides training and work opportunities for individuals with disabilities, came up $30,000 short in their fund drive.

Commissioner Richard Larson asked the board to reconsider the request. He said the city of Willmar donated $25,000.

The board unanimously ag-reed to donate $30,000.

The commissioners also agreed to provide a $200,000 loan to Woodland Centers for a construction project.

In other action Tuesday the commissioners:

- Were in-formed that an informational meeting on the proposed wastewater co-llection system around Lake Florida will be at 7 p.m. Friday at Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center.

A preliminary hearing on the proposed project will be at 9 a.m. May 20 at the Kandiyohi County Health and Human Services Building. A second hearing will be at 10 a.m. on June 6 before the county commissioners.

- Approved a low bid of $62,825 from Custom Manufacturing Inc. for a fishing and pedestrian bridge on County Road 4 on Green Lake.

- Delayed a discussion on road projects for the summer until firm prices were known on bituminous. Public Works Director Gary Danielson said after the meeting that the latest estimate on bituminous was $47 a ton.

This time last year it was in the range of $24 to $27 a ton. Danielson said the huge price increase will mean that some projects will be delayed or taken off the list this year.

- Agreed to extend the deadline for Daniel Olson to remove unlicensed vehicles from his property.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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