Friday, January 22, 1999

Flood project clears a hurdle

Fairfax gains easement rights

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FAIRFAX — Half of a dispute with property owners along Duck Creek, holding up a $17 million flood protection project, was settled Thursday.

        Gary Franke, lawyer for the J.K. Meurer Co., said a $39,500 offer by the village of Fairfax to buy easement rights on 4.43 acres from the compa ny is acceptable.

        The village approved the offer at a council meeting Wednesday night. Fairfax had offered the company $24,900 for easement rights. But negotiations deadlocked last year when Jeff Meurer, owner, said he wanted $59,000.

        The village filed a motion in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court to settle the dispute. Court dates for Dec. 14 and Jan. 14 were postponed because company officials could not appear.

        Jennifer Kaminer, village administrator, said council reconsidered the cost of pursuing the issue through court.

        “Even if we won with our offer of $24,000, it would cost enough in lawyer fees and court costs to equal close to $59,000,” Mrs. Kaminer said.

        The U.S. Corps of Engineers, which planned the flood protection project 10 years ago, needs the land to gain access to and tear down an abandoned bridge on the creek.

        The bridge stands in the way of the first phase of the project, which includes widening the creek in that area.

        Linda Murphy, project manager for the corps, said funding has been approved for phases 1 and 2 of the project.

        The flood protection project involves a major reconfiguration of the creek, including installing 14,000 feet of floodwalls and levees, widening 7,400 feet of the creek, building a 1,200-foot underground channel to redirect a portion of the creek west of Red Bank Road, and installing a 1,500-foot-long triple box culvert to channel the water into underground pipes along a section of the creek.

        Yet to be settled is a dispute between property owners Charles and James Garner and the city of Cincinnati to get easement rights to an acre of vacant land north of the creek. The city's last offer was $10,000.

        West Wimmer, supervising engineer for the city's Storm Water Management Utility, said acquisition proceedings are in the process.

        “We haven't settled, yet. There are several steps we have to go through before taking it to court,” he said.

        A request for land acquisition has to go before the City Planning Commission, Public Works Department, City Council before going to court.

        Charles Garner said he will not discuss the case.


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