City of Decatur now owns 4.19 acres near Dearborn Park acquired using eminent domainDecatur City Hall.
The city of Decatur now owns 4.19 acres near Dearborn Park that it acquired by using eminent domain.
During a meeting on Nov. 6, 2017, City Commissioners voted unanimously to exercise the city’s power of eminent domain to take the property. The vote followed a number of public comments in support of the move by the city.
Eminent domain was used to stop a proposed 4-acre development on the site at West Dearborn Circle and Chevelle Lane. Kudzu Capital LLC purchased the land in June 2016. The property is divided into 16 lots, but does not have a road that provides easy access to the lots. The property has been a point of contention for years. In December 2015, Decatur City Commissioners voted to pay $500,000 to buy the land with plans to expand the park. The city discovered later that the property was already under contract with Redwater LLC, another company affiliated with the same developer, Neal Hightower. Redwater filed a lawsuit against the previous owner to resolve the issue, and the purchase was completed in June 2016, according to documents filed with the city.
While the city was hopeful eminent domain would not be necessary, the parties couldn’t agree on a fair price. City Attorney Bryan Downs said the condemnation case was filed in January. The court appointed an attorney to serve as a “special master” to oversee the process.
“Over the past few weeks, there have been various filings that formalize the award of the special master and the condemnation of the property, while preserving the city’s appeal of the amount of compensation to be paid,” Downs said. ” … The parties continue to litigate over the amount to be paid, but the property has been condemned and the city owns the property.”