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Silva Valley interchange update: County pursues eminent domain

By From page A1 | January 09, 2013

El Dorado County needs approximately 12 more acres of land to begin building the Silva Valley interchange at Highway 50 between Bass Lake Road and El Dorado Hills Boulevard. Negotiations with about 15 owners of separate target parcels have not been fully successful, and the county will now begin the process of acquiring some land through eminent domain.

The El Dorado County Board of Supervisors conducted a hearing Friday morning and eventually adopted a Resolution of Necessity that authorizes beginning the process. Because much of the project is within the California Department of Transportation’s jurisdiction, that state agency can authorize the county to take the action.

“Caltrans is the lead agency and they require us to do this,” District 4 Supervisor Ron Briggs explained during a phone conversation last Thursday. “We have to follow Caltrans protocol, otherwise we would just negotiate with the owners.

“Eminent domain is not very common for us. Usually we go to the ‘willing owner as a willing buyer,’” he continued.

Briggs further said the county had “come to terms with 10 or so owners of other related parcels, but there’s one we just can’t find.” The parcels are not uniform in size and slices and pieces of them have to be considered in the overall action, he added.

Board documents note that the “subject property” is part of a block of 52 acres owned by a company called EDH 52, “a California general partnership whose general partner is Angelo T. Tsakopoulos.”

In May 2012 the county offered EDH 52 $468,600 for the parcel based on figures developed by the county’s appraisal consulting firm.

“After several months of discussions and communications, a settlement was not reached and the county must now move forward with the proposed Resolution of Necessity in order to commence eminent domain proceedings,” county documents state.

The Resolution of Necessity establishes findings that the project provides a public benefit that is “more necessary … than the use to which the property is appropriated.” Under the state’s Streets and Highways Code, Caltrans is authorized to delegate to the county the power of eminent domain “with respect to any portion of the State Highway System within that county.”

A half-dozen sections of the California Code of Civil Procedures and another section of the Streets and Highways Code “authorize the board to acquire any property necessary for the use and purposes of county highways.” The two-phase project is intended to serve the surrounding area’s future commercial and residential development.

In addition to an overcrossing with four through lanes and two deceleration lanes at Silva Valley Parkway and Highway 50, the project includes east and west auxiliary lanes between El Dorado Hills Boulevard and the new interchange.

Phase 1 involves the majority of the work with the exception of the “eastbound diagonal on-ramp and the westbound loop on-ramp.”

Those projects are projected to begin after the year 2020 and be operational by 2030.

Briggs described acquisition of the additional land and right of way as time-sensitive — to take advantage of current lower costs before “the construction bidding process goes up and to not lose $1 or $2 million in Caltrans grants.”

The property owner was notified of the hearing in accordance with the state codes and has the right to speak at the hearing with respect to the four findings, according to the county’s documents.

They are: “Whether the public interest and necessity require the project;  Whether the project is planned or located in the manner that will be most compatible with the greatest public good and the least private injury; Whether the subject property is necessary for the project; and whether the offer required by Government Code Section 7267.2 has been made to all owners of record.”

DOT engineer and project manager Adam Bane led the staff presentation to the board Friday, noting that the department has “been working on this project for quite some time, since the 1980s.” Bane described the property as east of the current Silva Valley Parkway and north of Highway 50. The proposed interchange and parkway will be located slightly east of the existing underpass.

Bane further explained that the county’s negotiations with EDH 52 were at an impasse; however, the sticking point is not based on opposition to the project but to the “mitigation of damages” to the rest of the firm’s property.

“Damages are a compensation issue to be determined outside of this (Resolution of Necessity) process.” And, “Negotiations will continue concurrent with condemnation process. If issues cannot be resolved through negotiations, a jury will determine the amount of damages, should you authorize filing of eminent domain action,” DOT’s documents state.

In addition to the terms of the resolution, that is, the “findings,” Bane recommended the board include an authorization for the “outside counsel, Meyers Nave, to proceed with the necessary steps to acquire the property.”

Both issues can be addressed concurrently, Bane assured the board. And he reiterated the urgency of moving forward because “one state grant for $1 million expires June 30 of this year unless we have all the property rights.”

The county has not received any notification from EDH 52 that it opposes the Resolution of Necessity, he added.

Supervisors unanimously voted to adopt the resolution.

For more information on the Silva Valley interchange visit edcgov.us/DOT.

Chris Daley


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