Four property owners along Vine Street may lose some of their property through eminent domain for the city’s $9.3 million roundabout project.
Hays City Commissioners agreed Thursday evening during their regular work session to vote next Tuesday during their regular meeting for city attorney John Bird to start condemnation proceedings against the owners of Pheasant Run restaurant, Golden Ox Truck Stop, Super 8 Hotel, and the land that was formerly the Ambassador Hotel.
Some of their land is needed for right-of-way, and temporary and permanent easements.
Hays City Commissioner Eber Phelps commented that landowners are paid for their property, and others have already settled with the city.
“Compensation was offered to every property owner,’’ Phelps said, “and everybody has the option of a counteroffer.”
Phelps asked Bird and City Manager Toby Dougherty about the next steps of the process.
“Anybody that hasn’t submitted a counteroffer or anything, they still have the opportunity to do so?” Phelps asked.
“Absolutely,” Bird said, and that’s true even after eminent domain proceedings begin.
The city commission in September authorized more than $390,000 to buy the easements and rights-of-way. In all, it needs to acquire 19 parcels of private land. The properties are located along Vine Street/US-183 highway, and along the 37th and Skyline area where it will connect to 41st Street.
“We have signed paperwork on everybody else,” said the city’s Project Manager John Braun. “We got one earlier today; it was not one of those four.”
“Everything has been dissolved that we can, and then there are a few that theoretically can fall out between now and the next meeting,” Bird said.
“There is one counteroffer on the table to discuss,” Dougherty said.
The roundabout design calls for two roundabouts straddling either side of Interstate 70; a third farther south at the entrance to the former Ambassador Hotel; and a fourth shaped like an hourglass at 32nd and 33rd streets. Land acquisition is the last step in the design process.
“So we’re 90% complete on the design?” asked City Commissioner Shaun Musil. “Is there still a chance this design could change at all?”
“No, not unless the commission tells us to change it,” Dougherty said. “It is what it is … it is to the point they are ready to go to bid documents.”
Musil said folks have made comments suggesting the city is taking big plots of land.
“We’re not taking any buildings or businesses,” Braun said.
In the city’s documentation, Pheasant Run, 3201 Vine, is owned by Deo Volente Inc. and Scott Jordan; the former Ambassador Hotel, 3603 Vine, is owned by Abel Lodging LLC and Joshua Joseph; Super 8, 3730 Vine, is owned by Jay Hospitality LLC; and Golden Ox Truck Stop is owned by CC of Hays Inc and Chuck Patel.
None of the condemned slices go through anybody’s lot, Bird added, with the exception of the former Ambassador property.
“When the project was designed, you directed the staff to do it in a way that took the very least necessary,” Bird told the commissioners. “John Braun worked countless hours with the engineers to make sure the design on this was efficient and minimal.”
One intersection was significantly redesigned to better accommodate the property owner, he said.
“There’s nothing anybody likes about this, but it is absolutely being done according to the law, and taking into account some of the human factors here,” Bird said.
Dougherty has said that all the properties are zoned commercial, with the exception of one agricultural parcel; none involve any structure or facility, and none being taken will interfere with a business’s ability to function. The parcels range in size from 100 square feet to over an acre, with purchases from a couple hundred dollars to tens of thousands. Most of the parcels are extremely small, with only two large tracts, he said.
The remaining properties reflect that, Braun said.
“What we’re taking is a matter of a couple hundred square feet in the corner of the lot, obviously the largest one is the extension of west 27th street through the former Ambassador Hotel property,” Braun said. “That’s a large one, but all the other three are basically just corners of the lots.”
City Commissioner Sandy Jacobs said the city’s growth is a driver.
“We’re not doing this lightly,” Jacobs said. “I’m really proud of how our staff and the engineers have been able to go about this and take the slightest amount from anybody. No piece of a building anywhere is being taken.”
The project is funded in part with $6.05 million from the Federal Highway Administration since construction includes part of U.S. Highway 183.
Dougherty said the project has been reviewed by several layers of engineering firms, and must meet KDOT requirements.
“We also had KDOT looking over our shoulder, because anything we came up with has to pass KDOT muster and they were especially interested because KDOT has somewhat analogous situations throughout the state,” he said. “They’re looking at the solutions we’re putting in place here to see if that’s something they can scale and put into those other areas. So there were a lot of engineers looking at this trying to find the most efficient way to do it.”