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City ready to acquire Tahoe Meadows property

Michael Schneider

A scaled-down version of the South Lake Tahoe City Council gave the city attorney the power to use eminent domain to take part of several Tahoe Meadows residents’ properties.

Only Tom Davis, Kevin Cole and Margo Osti attended the special meeting called for Friday afternoon. Hal Cole and Judy Brown were not in attendance.

Hal Cole said he had a previous commitment and confirmed there was a quorum of council members before leaving town. Brown was vacationing out of town.

The council chambers was filled with Tahoe Meadows property owners, however only the director of the homeowner’s association spoke.

Michael Fry told the council he liked the deal the city has been working on with the home owners. Fry said he liked what the city has done and plans to do with the area, especially erosion control measures undertaken along U.S. Highway 50.

The city is currently assessing the value of the properties.

According to Jaye Von Klug, redevelopment director, few properties are sold in the Meadows so it is difficult to know how much the various properties are worth. However, she said one was recently sold, so the city is using that sale to try to come up with a more accurate price tag for the other properties.

Von Klug said Friday’s decision to allow the city attorney to invoke eminent domain should not be seen as an imminent conflict with residents. She said it was necessary to ensure the project would proceed as planned because it took so long to revalue the properties, based on the recent sale.

Eminent domain, or the involuntary purchase of a resident’s property by the city, can be used when the public interest and necessity require the project, the proposed project is planned and located in a manner that will be the most compatible with the greatest public good and the least private injury and the real property is proved necessary for the project.

According to Von Klug, the city should have negotiations complete for all but two properties. She said those two property owners may go to court to try to stop the city.

Parts of 18 properties will be taken to make way for the Linear Park and bike trail to front U.S. Highway 50’s lake side between the Park Avenue area and the Ski Run Marina.

Also, Von Klug said the city has received bids for construction of Linear Park. According to Von Klug, the low bid was close to $150,000 less than the pre-project estimate of $748,000.

At Friday’s meeting, the council also approved a $748,000 grant from the California Tahoe Conservancy to fund Linear Park.

City resident Jonny Crawford said the city would be hard-pressed to maintain the park once it is built, as that responsibility will fall on the budget-stricken Parks and Recreation Department.

Von Klug countered if more money is needed for Linear Park maintenance, it will come from the Redevelopment Agency, which is millions of dollars in debt.

Resident Bill Crawford asked acting Mayor Kevin Cole to explain how Conservancy funds can be used to pay for a bike trail along the highway.

“How does a bike trail conserve Tahoe?” he asked, sparking a debate between him and Kevin Cole.

Kevin Cole, acting as mayor in the absence of Hal Cole and Brown, closed the public comment portion of the meeting, cutting Crawford off and not allowing anyone else in the packed room a chance to speak.

After a motion of approval was made for acceptance of the CTC grant, council member Margo Osti told Kevin Cole he couldn’t close the comment portion of the meeting, as a point of fairness, without asking for further comment.

The public comment portion was reopened and no one else wished to speak.

Both council actions were unanimously approved.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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