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Supes vote to use eminent domain to complete Auburn Folsom widening project

By: ToLewis, The Press Tribune
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The Placer County Board of Supervisor’s adopted a resolution Tuesday to begin eminent domain proceedings against property owners who are delaying the last phase of widening of Auburn Folsom Road in Granite Bay. But one property owner says the county has been “unfair” in its negotiations to acquire a portion of his property. The Auburn Folsom Road widening project will ultimately widen the roadway from two lanes to four lanes from Douglas Boulevard to the Sacramento County line in Folsom. “This is an important project in our area,” said District 4 supervisor Kirk Uhler at Tuesday’s board meeting. “We can no longer afford the kinds of delays that we’ve incurred to get this project done.” The five parcels in question comprise an area of less than two acres, according to Public Works director Ken Grehm. Grehm said Auburn Folsom Road is a main thoroughfare between South Placer County and the Folsom area that is utilized by more than 30,000 vehicles daily. Placer County has been in negotiations with property owners since 2006 and has already successfully obtained 16 permanent easements required for the north phase of the project, Grehm said. Two property owners, however, have been holding out and the county has yet to acquire the remaining portions of five parcels that Grehm said are “necessary for the proposed project.” Tony Cardoso owns two of the parcels, located at 8989 and 9005 Auburn Folsom Road, comprising of 20.3 acres. Grehm said the county needs to purchase 1.35 acres, what he called a “sliver,” of that land to widen the roadway. The resolution allows the county to continue to meet with the land owners, however, to negotiate a “fair value market price” and come to an agreement before exercising eminent domain, Grehm said. Cardoso said in an address to the Board of Supervisors that while he is not necessarily interested in selling real estate in today’s market, he feels the county has made a “fair and equitable” offer and agreed to accept it. Cardoso’s property was valued at $220,000, based on the county’s appraisal in May 2011. Alison and Paul Lanman own three of the parcels, which are residential properties with a total area of 6.9 acres. Grehm said an initial appraisal conducted by the county in 2006 valued the amount of land needed from those parcels, .34 acres, at $171,000. The Lanmans did not sell, however, and the county did another appraisal on the land in July 2011 which came back with a value of $85,000. Grehm attributed the significant drop in value to the 2008 housing market crash. “That reduction in value from 2006, roughly the height of the market, to today is fairly consistent with what we’ve seen in Granite Bay in terms of overall residential property prices,” Uhler said. Kristen Ditlevsen, a Sacramento attorney representing the Lanmans, argued Tuesday that the board has not negotiated fairly and that it has failed to address some of her client’s concerns. Paul Lanman said that the land the county wishes to purchase will remove all the vegetation from the front of his properties, which allow for some privacy and act as a sound barrier from the busy street. Grehm said Lanman has asked for $500,000 for the purchase of the .34 acres with a special condition that the county builds a sound and privacy wall. He said the county plans to continue to negotiate with Lanman. “We are committed to paying what that fair market value is,” Grehm said. “Right now we just haven’t been able to agree on the same number.” Lanman also said he is willing to continue negotiations with the county until an agreement is made. “We haven’t made any progress, but we certainly are willing to continue to talk,” Lanman said. Toby Lewis can be reached at tobyl@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @TobyLewis_RsvPT.