Monday, December 8, 2008

"Your eyes are bigger than your stomach."

(As my grandmother used to say to me when I took too much food.)

The U plans to ease on out some of our neighbors in the name of possible future expansion.

From the Daily:

U threatens propery owners with eminent domain

In November, representatives from the University attended a public meeting at the Stadium Village Church — one of the properties in question — and told a group of 40 that the University has no current plans for the block.

However, this did not stop the University from sending letters to the owners of the remaining privately owned properties, stating that if a voluntary transaction cannot be completed, the Board of Regents may be asked to approve the use of eminent domain to acquire the properties.

Miller said that for an eminent domain ruling, the University’s vice presidents would make a recommendation to the president, who would then make a recommendation to the Board of Regents.

Miller speculated that the land might be used for biomedical research centers in the future.

Speculated? Might? This is outrageous.

Randy Mikkelson sold two properties on the block on the open market before the University made its formal threat of eminent domain. He said the University does not make fair market offers when they try to negotiate a purchase.

He was able to sell the properties for more than $200,000 in excess of the University’s best offer.

Mikkelson said once the threat of eminent domain was made, the damage to the property owners is irreversible until it is removed.

So, sell to us cheap or we will go eminent domain on you and then you will be hosed?

Paul Poteat owns two houses on Essex Street that are used by the Campus Outreach Ministry, and has received several letters from the University concerning his properties.

“I feel like they’ve been out of line with the way that they’ve communicated, to not have plans and talk about eminent domain,” Poteat said. “It seems like a strong-armed tactic.”

Peder Arneson , president of the dental fraternity Delta Sigma Delta, which is located on Essex Street, said losing the location so close to the dental school would be a major blow to the fraternity.

“Location is extremely important to us,” Arneson said. “There’s a lot at stake…if we were to lose it.”

However, Mikkelson said he thinks the properties on Block 11 are "doomed," but hopes the University will make fair offers for the remaining owner-occupied homes. He also said he hopes it will remove its claim to the properties, saying that organizations may cease to exist if they lose their current location.

As Robert Frost noted, good fences make good neighbors. But of course the U has decided, under the current administration, that being a good neighbor is not important. The magic word is now engagement, whatever that means...

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