The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

December 4, 2013

Couple appeals eminent domain compensation decision

By Katie Dahlstrom Herald Assistant Editor
The Clinton Herald

---- — CLINTON — The property owners whose land the city is taking through eminent domain to expand Eagle Point Park have filed an appeal.

Tim and Annette Bice last week filed an appeal in Clinton County District Court of the damages assessed by the Clinton County Compensation Commission. The commission consists of 28 Clinton County residents who own agricultural land, own city property, are real estate brokers or salespeople or have knowledge of property.

The Bices are slated to receive $100,000 for the 21.5 acres adjacent to Eagle Point Park, which the Clinton City Council approved being paid during its Nov. 12 meeting.

"That's not even coming close to what fair market value is," Tim Bice told the Herald. "I can't buy anything like what I had for less than $10,000 an acre and they won't offer me like property. I don't think it's fair."

Tim said he's had the property appraised at $221,000 and would like to receive closer to that amount.

In eminent domain proceedings, the appeal means the case will go forward to an eight-member jury trial for the compensation to be determined.

City Attorney Jeff Farwell did not return a request for comment.

City officials have given a number of reasons for the property to be seized through eminent domain, such as creating a buffer zone between the park and any surrounding development.

The property line between the Bices' land and Eagle Point Park falls one foot away from the drive south of the castle and extends into the parking lot in that part of the park.

During the council's latest discussion, the issue of a sewer pipe that is eroding and would need to be fixed if the city didn't purchase the property surfaced. Accessing the sewer would cost the city more money than purchasing the land, City Attorney Jeff Farwell explained.

The Bices purchased the land in 2010 for $49,900 with plans to use it for logging, building a home or developing a subdivision. The city allegedly also attempted to purchase the property at the same time.

After purchasing the property, Bice asked the city for vehicular access along an unimproved right-of-way from Cragmor and Lakewood drives. After the city told him he could not access his property with a vehicle, the Bices filed a lawsuit in March 2012 alleging the city's actions were unconstitutional.

The city's eminent domain proceeding made the lawsuit irrelevant.