Homeowner says city is being unfair in eminent domain case

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COLUMBIA - One Columbia homeowner said he thinks the city is not offering him enough money for the property it condemned for the Scott Boulevard Corridor project.

Mike Sweeney owns 4900 South Scott Blvd. and said the city has taken his land to widen the road for its project.

"What they're going to do is move all the utilities, widen the road, and put an eight-foot pedway on the opposite side of where we live and a five foot sidewalk on our side," Sweeney said. "They're going to be moving the road 34 feet closer to us, to our residence, and they're going to be elevating the road."

Sweeney said the city plans to raise the road anywhere from eight to 10 feet to level it with his house. 

"The impact on us with that kind of a project is going to be huge," Sweeney said. "The only way you can see the road now is if you're standing in our driveway."

Sweeney said he knows eminent domain is legal but does not think the city is acting fairly. KOMU 8 News reached out to the city's attorney who said he cannot comment on a case that may be taken to a jury trial.

"They condemned our property," Sweeney said. "Yes, it's legal for them to do that, we don't have a problem. We don't like it, we don't have a choice, but by law they can do that. But also by law we have to receive just compensation."

Sweeney said he does not think the city is offering him a fair amount under the eminent domain statue

"We requested information so that we could get a more fair, actually a fairer, compensation for the property they are actually impacting," Sweeney said. "And they're advised us, through their attorney, that it would adversely affect how much they would have to compensate us. In essence, they are saying we don't want to have to pay what your property is worth."

Sweeney said he requested the information using the Missouri state sunshine law, but the city denied his request in an email citing a closed record statute. 

The email said: "Information and details you're requesting regarding the price paid for the parcels in the construction of the Scott Boulevard Phase III project that might adversely affect the consideration the city would have to pay for the rest of the parcels involved in the acquisition. These are closed records."

Sweeney said, until the a fair compensation is agreed upon, the city cannot touch the land.

"So now, what we have is an appointed commission of three people. And they're going to come out here and we are going to look at the property with the city officials and the city attorney, the best of our knowledge, and us, and they're going to explain what they're going to do. And then, I think we are going to explain to the commission what we think our property is worth."

Sweeney said, if the commission and he cannot agree on what the property is worth, he will consider getting an attorney.

"If we don't agree with what the commission comes up with for fair compensation, then I believe we can hire an attorney and go to a jury trial."

Sweeney said the city's process of eminent domain has left a bad taste in his mouth.

"We're not going anywhere," Sweeney said. "We are not in a hurry to do anything. We just want to be treated fairly. We don't want any more or any less than anybody else. We only want to be treated fairly and that's it."