By James Neal, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Enid city commissioners Tuesday began the condemnation process on a piece of property that sits in the path of Enid Renaissance Project development.
Commissioners passed a resolution calling for the city attorney to begin condemnation proceedings against a parcel of land that lies in the path of proposed green space for the Renaissance project. The land in question, lot 27 and parts of lots 28-32 block 54, lies in the area designated for Renaissance parking, green space, and a central park and amphitheater.
The Renaissance area impacted is bounded by Independence and Grand, from Garriott to Oklahoma.
The property in question includes a building in the 400 block of South Grand owned by D&D Premier Properties of Enid.
Kathy Janes, listed by the Oklahoma Secretary of State as the registered agent for D&D Premier Properties, declined to comment on the impending condemnation before Tuesday’s commission meeting.
John Wynne, an attorney contracted by the city of Enid to negotiate the property purchase, along with other parcels related to Renaissance, said Tuesday night the D&D property is one of two properties “in stalemate.”
Wynne said a recent mediation meant to arrange a settlement price for the building’s purchase lasted more than 10 hours and did not yield an agreement.
“The city and the owner simply disagree on the value of the property or how the property should be valuated,” he said. “It’s not to say that the city is right and the owner is wrong — it’s that you disagree.”
Wynne said the city had two options remaining, since a settlement price could not be reached: abandon the “quest to acquire the property,” or begin condemnation proceedings.
Wynne said condemnation through eminent domain is “an easy solution with somewhat of a tainted name.”
He said the condemnation process provides a formal process through which the city and property owner are given equal opportunity to present evidence in determination of a fair settlement cost.
Wynne said an independent appraisal would be conducted. If the city and property owner don’t agree to that appraised value, either party can reject the appraisal and send the process to a court hearing to determine a final value.
New Ward 6 Commissioner Dr. David Vanhooser asked Wynne “how far apart” the current appraisals cited by the city and property owner are.
Wynne said as a party to the mediation he was pledged not to disclose the exact amounts of the two appraisals, but said the difference between the two “is not a small dollar amount.”
Vanhooser asked if the cost of the condemnation process would be more than the difference in valuation.
Wynne said he was unable to determine that, because “either the city or the owner could be off in their valuation.”
Ward 2 Commissioner Mike Stuber asked Wynne how the two valuations were achieved. Wynne said the city’s valuation was achieved through an appraisal conducted by King Appraisal Co. He said D&D Premier Properties was offered 120 percent of the King appraisal cost plus other expenses, including lost profit and relocation.
Wynne said the appraisals conducted by the city and property owner were “fairly close.”
The crux of the disagreement lies not so much in the property value as in different valuations for relocation costs, Wynne said.
He said the building in question is “generally in poor repair” and in a flood plain, and to relocate to a building of comparable size outside of a flood plain and in good repair could cost as much as five times as much per square foot as the valuation on the building up for condemnation.
Ward Commissioner 1 Ron Janzen moved to approve the resolution declaring the necessity to acquire the property, a prerequisite for condemnation through eminent domain.
At that point, several members of the audience stood up to speak on the matter.
Mayor Bill Shewey responded that no one had signed up to speak on the agenda item, a city procedural requirement for entering public discussion of commission agenda items.
Ward 4 Commissioner Drew Ritchie then seconded Janzen’s motion, sending the resolution to a vote.
“It saddens me that we’ve reached this point,” Ritchie said. “We wanted to create ambassadors with our downtown people we had to relocate, and I know Mr. Wynne has made repeated attempts ... I’m sorry we’re getting to this point, but I do believe it is time to second this motion.”
The resolution was unanimously approved.
The resolution declared the public necessity for acquiring the property, and did “authorize, instruct and direct the city attorney to commence condemnation proceedings if said property cannot be purchased and damages settled by agreement with the landowners.”
Following the vote, Stuber asked City Attorney Andrea Springer to review the rules behind public comment and what can be discussed during commission meetings.
Springer said “if something is not on the agenda, by state law, it cannot be discussed.”
She said city rules require people who wish to speak on an agenda item to sign up on a form before the meeting begins.
“If they don’t follow that procedure, the mayor generally doesn’t recognize them,” Springer said.
Ward 3 Commissioner Lewis Blackburn said the sign-up sheet requirement is necessary to maintain order during commission meetings.
In a special session before Tuesday’s study session and regular meeting, Vanhooser was sworn in to the Ward 6 seat, filling a vacancy left when Todd Ging resigned Feb. 20. Vanhooser will fill the remainder of Ging’s unexpired term until he begins his full term in May, along with commissioners-elect Ben Ezzell and Rodney Timm.
Before commencing with the business of the evening, Shewey paused to thank city crews that worked over the last week to restore power to the city’s western water well fields.
Shewey said city workers, along with crews from Vance Air Force Base, OG&E, Alfalfa Electric Cooperative and Koch Nitrogen, performed well under tough conditions to keep water flowing to the city.
Regular power also has been restored to all of the city’s water wells.
Once they got down to business, commissioners made several appointments to fill vacancies on city advisory boards. Those appointments were:
• Metropolitan Area Planning Commission — Geoff Helm and Cody Bill Haney.
• Enid Joint Recreation Triad — Nanci Moore and Lynn Snow.
• Park Board — Molly Helm.
• Enid Public Transit Authority — William Gungoll.
• Board of Adjustment — Gungoll.
• Meadowlake Golf Course Advisory Board — Bob Adamson Jr.
In Renaissance-related business, commissioners approved two change orders totaling $138,550.
One change order increased the contract with Carter & Associates by $42,660 to cover two additional months of management services until August. The new contract will not exceed $648,726.
Vanhooser questioned whether the extension signified the project being two months behind schedule.
City Manager Eric Benson said the project is on schedule given previous change orders that were made to install additional steel in Enid Event Center, and that with all change orders figured in the project still is within its 5 percent contingency for cost overruns.
Danny Jardine, program manager for Carter & Associates, said Enid Event Center is on schedule for a June opening.
The second change order amended the contract amount with W.L. McNatt and Co. of Oklahoma City for the Convention Hall renovation project. The original contract was awarded in October 2011 for $7,082,000. It was the sixth change order in the project, raising the project cost by $90,890 to $7,427,148.
In other business, the city commission:
• Voted to close a portion of Westwood adjacent to the 1600 block of Cansler. The road’s right of way ends at the 13th green of Oakwood Country Club, and has been maintained for 20 years by a private property owner. The city will retain its right of way, while the property owner intends to apply in district court to have the road vacated.
• Passed a groundwater access agreement and easement with Garfield County Fairgrounds Trust Authority to develop city water wells on county property in exchange for credits on the cost of up to 2 million gallons of water production per year.
• Approved the purchase of 40.7 acres of land at a cost of $172,000 to create FAA-required obstruction-free zones and easement at the approach end of the runway 35 extension at Enid Woodring Regional Airport.
• Agreed to a cost-sharing water drainage improvement project with Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway for drainage on and downstream from railroad property at 411 W. Chestnut. BNSF will cost-share up to $150,000. Bids have not yet been received, but total project cost estimates are $250,000, according to the city engineering office.
• Approved $8,000 for additional testing and inspection services by EnviroTech Engineering & Consulting of Enid for Event Center steel work.
• Increased a purchase order amount for a digital signage package for Convention Hall and Enid Event Center by $11,857.21, from $52,512.95 to $64,370.16.
• Accepted a warranty deed from Uplands Resources, Inc. and the Oven family for lots 7-12 block 8 Weatherly’s 6th Addition to Enid. The H. H. Champlin Foundation has pledged $10,000 to be put toward improvements on the property, which is intended to be used to establish the Helen Champlin Oven Park.