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City may use eminent domain to use land on Darling Drive

Graphic | Echo Press The waterline will get extended on Darling Drive.

Will the city of Alexandria have to use eminent domain to obtain right-of-way easements for a waterline extension on Darling Drive?

City leaders hope it won't come to that - and the process of obtaining easements on the 55 or so parcels has been going smoothly so far, according to City Attorney John Lervick.

But the council wants to be prepared just in case.

At its December 27 meeting, the council authorized Lervick to start working on the eminent domain paperwork. Several hoops have to be cleared - filing court documents, establishing a public purpose for obtaining the easements, giving notice of a public hearing and then moving through a hearing process if an agreement can't be reached.

All that takes time, Lervick said, and the city is under a deadline to start the project on May 15 and complete it this year. "We absolutely have to get the process moving," Lervick told the council.

Assistant City Administrator Marty Schultz has contacted all of the parcel owners, obtained appraisals and has made offers of compensation, Lervick said.

About 15 property owners have not yet signed an easement agreement, Lervick added.

The appraisals for the right-of-ways, which are adjacent to the road right-of-way on Darling Drive, have varied widely depending on the land involved, ranging from $50 to around $2,000.

If the city acquires property through eminent domain, it must still pay the property owner a fair value on the land, Lervick said.

The easements that are needed will not intrude much onto people's property. When the project is complete, property owners won't see any differences on the surface of the land, Lervick said, because the work is all taking place underground.

Only a limited number of trees will be taken down, Schultz added.

The waterline extension is part of the phase three, part two orderly annexation agreement with Alexandria Township.

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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