Airport expansion compensation amount likely to land in court
RIFLE – A landowner says he and Garfield County are about $3 million apart in their estimates of the worth of 10.6 acres the county is planning to condemn as part of its airport expansion.Minnesota developer Brad Hoyt said the county offered about $480,000 for the land, and he thinks he should get $3.5 million.”We’re not even remotely close,” Hoyt said. “It isn’t like we can sit down and say can we split the difference.”Said deputy county attorney Carolyn Dahlgren, “I guess we have a disagreement, huh?”She said she couldn’t confirm Hoyt’s figures, but information related to the two sides’ differing opinions of the land’s worth would become public once the county files for condemnation. She hopes that will occur this fall. County commissioners approved proceeding with condemnation in early August.Hoyt has yet to be notified by the county of its condemnation plans, but he said he was expecting that course of action, given the disagreement over price.”The offer they made me was extremely deficient and didn’t really warrant a response, so they’ll take (the land) and we’ll have a trial,” he said.A court will decide the property’s value. Hoyt is expecting the county to pursue a “quick take,” which would allow it to deposit the amount of money it would like to pay, acquire the property and let the landowner sue to seek a higher payment.Dahlgren said it’s too early to know whether the county will need to take such expedited action. That will depend on the construction schedule for expanding the airport, and where the contested property fits into that schedule.Continental Rifle, a company associated with Hoyt’s Continental Property Group, a development company based in Wayzata, Minn., paid $2.6 million to buy 77 acres near the county airport last year. Hoyt said property values in Rifle have risen significantly since then, and the 10.6 acres have road frontage and are among the most developable acres on the property. He said a nearby parcel recently sold for $3.50 per square foot, but the county is offering $1 per square foot.He said the land targeted for condemnation also has about 100,000 cubic yards of gravel and fill that is worth a total of about $1 million.Dahlgren believes the county is offering a fair price for what is a small part of the 77-acre parcel. She said the value of the gravel may be minimized by the fact that power lines would have to be moved to mine it, and Hoyt also would face expenses in obtaining mining-related approvals from the city of Rifle and the state. The land is within Rifle’s city limits.Under Colorado law, Hoyt could recover legal fees associated with a court challenge of the county’s offer if the court decides the land is worth at least 20 percent more than the county had offered.Hoyt said Minnesota allows for landowners to recover legal fees if the court deems the property to be worth 11 percent more than a government’s offer. He said that amount used to be higher, but the legislature reduced it because of a condemnation case he has been going through involving the city of St. Paul.In that case, the city condemned a whole block, including his brew pub, he said. He said he spent $2.3 million in legal fees in the case, and the city didn’t have to reimburse any of them, causing him to seek the change in state law.He said he has been seeking to have the St. Paul condemnation case accepted for review by the U.S. Supreme Court.”The government is not exactly looking to treat you fairly. That isn’t really the way it works,” he said.The county is working to expand its airport runway and realign associated roads. The Federal Aviation Administration is expected to pick up the bulk of the project cost, including acquisition of land and easements.Contact Dennis Webb: email@example.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO
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