Tuesday, February 26th, 2019

St. Marys may claim building for city hall

By Sydney Albert
ST. MARYS - City officials are seeking to claim a downtown building, possibly through eminent domain, to serve as the new municipal building.
Council members on Monday passed after first reading a resolution declaring the necessity and intention of appropriating the Palm Building at 101-103 W. Spring St. Law director Kraig Noble said resolutions are not required to have three readings as ordinances are.
After speaking with architects and engineers, Noble said city administrators found the Palm Building presented the best opportunity for keeping the municipal building downtown. The 7.874-acre parcel sits across the St. Marys River from the current municipal building at 101 E. Spring St.
"Various entreaties have been made to the owner of the building over the last couple years with no response, so we are indicating our intention to proceed with appropriation, also known as eminent domain, of that parcel," Noble said.
The current municipal building is about a century old and has various issues, including water leaks and crumbling ceilings, according to council president James Harris.
The mayor is required to notify the property owner that the city intends to proceed in this manner. Noble said that notice might prod the owner into a discussion, or the city could continue to take steps in the appropriation process.
He said title for the property is held in the name of a corporation that "no longer exists on the books" and is no longer recognized by the state. No possible compensation amount was given. Noble said if the process continues, the matter would eventually go to trial, and a jury would decide the compensation.
Safety service director Greg Foxhoven said when officials made their third offer to the building owner, they included a notice that they would pursue eminent domain if the offer were not accepted.
The last time the city appropriated a property was in 1998, according to Noble. The city appropriated land on McKinley Road for a retention pond, and though litigation was filed, the matter was settled before it went to trial.
Council members also,
• were told to expect legislation on proposed raises for elected officials at the next meeting.
• heard from superintendent of electric distribution Mack Kuenning that four outages occurred on Sunday night that lasted between 30 minutes and two hours. Roughly 370 residents lost power on Sunday.
• passed an emergency ordinance under rule suspension employing Arcadis to conduct a comprehensive sanitary sewer system study, including metering and analysis of sewer flows, mapping of city area sewers and aiding in eliminating sewer inflow, infiltration and overflows.
• gave first readings of two emergency resolutions allowing the Community Improvement Corp. to sell parcels in the city's name. The resolutions also allowed the CIC to take 5 percent commission to be put toward the CIC Downtown Improvement Fund.
• heard the reading of a special proclamation by mayor Pat McGowan celebrating the 175th anniversary of the St. Marys Freemasons.
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