Chestnut will be on November ballot by David Lias Vermillion citizens will be doing more than electing a governor, U.S. senator, U.S. Congressman and state legislators when they go to the polls Nov. 5.
They will also be deciding whether or not to uphold recent Vermillion City Council action to condemn three parcels of private property in order to make improvements to Chestnut Street.
The Vermillion City Council agreed Monday to schedule the public vote in November. It could have called a special election, but members reasoned that voter turnout likely will be the greatest at November's general election.
City Attorney James McCulloch advised aldermen that the scope of the referendum election resulting from the filing of petitions will relate only to the condemnation aspects of the project and will not be a referendum of the Chestnut Street project as a whole.
All members of the council except for Barbara Yelverton voted April 15 to condemn the three tracts of privately owned property.
According to Martin Weeks, city attorney at that time, the street project is at an adminstrative stage, meaning it can't be brought to a public vote.
Court rulings, however, are supportive of the referendum process to question the condemnation of private property for a public works project.
Petition circulators collected signatures of more than the required 5 percent of registered voters in Vermillion.
They filed 32 pages of petitions at City Hall May 16. "I reviewed the petitions until I got the valid number of signatures � 5 percent of the registered voters, which is 325, � I went through the petitions until I got to that number and quit, and I was about two-thirds of the way through the petitions that were filed," Carlson said. "So, I would say we do have a valid number of signatures on the petitions."
In November 2000, according to city minutes, the council agreed to proceed with the Chestnut Street plans and include street lights as an alternate to the plan.
The estimated $1.3 million price tag for the project's original design, if approved, is to be funded by $600,000 of city sales tax revenue, the state of South Dakota, and Vermillion's share of Federal Surface Transportation Program funds.
The lion's share of the cost � approximately $900,000 would be used in the original design to construct a retaining wall south of Chestnut Street between the railroad tracks.