Dec '23

County commissioners approve the pursuit of eminent domain for Keats sewer project – The Mercury – Manhattan, Kansas

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Updated: December 5, 2023 @ 4:36 am

Riley County commissioners voted 2-1 on Tuesday to approve the pursuit of eminent domain of a private property in Keats for a sewer project.
Chairwoman Kathryn Focke and commissioner Greg McKinley voted to pass the resolution, while commissioner John Ford voted no.
“There’s still a lot of ‘ifs’; we haven’t even done the required testing,” Ford said. “There are several other options I think can be looked at before taking private property, whether you’re doing it involuntarily or not. To me, you’re doing it involuntarily, which means you’re taking it whether you’re paying for it or not.”
Deputy county counselor Shelley Woodard said officials are still pursuing a voluntary purchase for the non-discharging lagoon. The construction costs $4,146,330 as of November, and the property owner to the west of Keats park hasn’t agreed to give up part of his property.
“If we’re able to come to a voluntary agreement, we can end the domain proceedings at any time up until we paid for the property after the appraisal report,” Woodard said.
Although Woodard said the best option is purchasing the land, Woodard said she believes the county has the right to eminent domain.
“Essentially, you file with the court,” Woodard said. “They determine if we have the authority to use eminent domain, which we do.”
Woodard said when the court rules in their favor, they’ll appoint three appraisers who will schedule a time to go out and look at the property.
Upon analysis, she said the county will get an appraisal report and county officials will have 30 days to “either pay for the property or we’ll take title or choose not to.”
“I know if it were my property, which it’s not, I wouldn’t want to give it up voluntarily,” Ford said. “I would fight for it through every legal means.”
Along with approving the pursuit of eminent domain, county commissioners voted unanimously to approve one day of additional holiday leave for county employees in 2023.
Commissioners had the option to approve up to three days of extended time off, which included Dec. 22, 26 and 29. Commissioners voted to approve only Dec. 26 off.
Human resources director Elizabeth Ward asked for Dec. 26 and Dec. 29 off. She said the city of Manhattan granted the 22nd off because of how its payroll system works. However, Riley County benefits from Dec. 26 off the most.
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Joker has been buying and selling domains since the late 90's. He has worked with many portfolios and investors over the past decade as well.

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