City, property owners will discuss Chestnut

City, property owners will discuss Chestnut by David Lias Vermillion citizens gave a green light to the city's efforts to improve Chestnut Street Tuesday by upholding action taken by the Vermillion City Council last April.

The council had adopted three resolutions authorizing condemnation of land in connection with the Chestnut Street improvement project.

The land would be used for right of way and construction easement purposes.

For the past two years, the affected property owners and the city have been deadlocked on this issue, particularly on the price that should be paid for the land and safety concerns.

Condemnation would permit the city to begin proceedings to have the land's value determined by a court or jury.

City officials and property owners hope to avoid taking this issue to court, however.

They plan to meet Nov. 8.

"We feel really good about it. I think it really showed there are a lot of citizens, a lot of taxpayers out there worried a little bit about what we are spending for city government," Lynette Melby, one of the property owners said. "Hopefully we raised some awareness among taxpayers, and we had so many people contact us and thank us for bringing things to light."

Before the election, Vermillion City Manager James Patrick contacted property owners and asked for a meeting to explore the possibility of finding common ground.

"We said certainly, we've always been willing do that," Melby said. "Everyone would like to keep this out of a courtroom."

"The citizens basically have upheld the action taken by the council," Mayor Roger Kozak said. "What this basically puts into motion is this item will now be referred to the court for its determination of a fair value.

"However, we aren't prohibited from visiting with the property owners to see if there is a point of compromise here where we could still reach agreement," he said, "and that is the action we are taking this week."

Kozak, like Melby, hopes the meeting is successful.

"I would like nothing more than to reach a resolution to this prior to having it go to court," he said.

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