Montpelier poised to take Carr Lot if no sale
MONTPELIER — The City Council has decided to acquire the Carr Lot through eminent domain, but the city is still in last-minute negotiations with the owner to avoid the seizure.
Mayor John Hollar said the council voted unanimously Wednesday to pursue condemnation of the parking lot — the start of the eminent domain process — after a deliberative session. However, the council directed Hollar to wait until today before signing and issuing the condemnation order so there was still a window to negotiate with property owner Allan Carr.
As of Thursday evening, Hollar said, negotiations were still ongoing between Carr and the city on a purchase agreement. Hollar said he expected an agreement to be reached today and that if the two sides were close he would not sign the condemnation order.
Before the deliberative session Wednesday, the council continued a hearing it started in June about acquiring the property on Taylor Street to build a transit hub.
“After that point (in June), we entered into negotiations with Mr. Carr,” Hollar said Thursday morning. “We talked to him over the course of three months and thought we had reached an agreement with him. ... But we just were not able to get the property owner to commit to it, so we were left with no alternative but to pursue condemnation.”
Hollar said the property has been appraised at $920,000 and that is what the council plans to pay Carr.
“It wasn’t the preferred course of anyone on the council. We felt like we bent over backward to try and meet (Carr’s) needs for the terms of a purchase ...,” he said.
If the condemnation order is signed, Carr can still go to court to challenge both the decision to acquire the land and the amount he will be paid. Hollar said Carr will have 60 days from whenever the order is signed to appeal.
To prevail, the city would have to show why it needs the land.
The city has been planning to build a transit hub on the land for at least 15 years. Hollar has said previously that the reason for pursuing eminent domain is that the project is coming close to a deadline to use $7 million in federal money granted to the city. Residents also voted in 2002 to borrow $800,000 for the project.
Even if the city decides to take the lot or purchases it from Carr, construction would not begin until after the legislative session next year since the state currently leases the lot from Carr for parking.
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