Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Norwood closer to eminent domain

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

NORWOOD - City Council continued clearing the way for the latest Rookwood shopping and office development Tuesday with a 7-2 vote signaling its intent to take seven holdout properties through eminent domain.

"(The resolution) means, 'We're not kidding. This time we really mean it,' " said attorney Tim Burke, Norwood's special counsel. "But it's still not the final action declaring eminent domain."

Owners of seven of the 73 properties in the path of the proposed Rookwood Exchange project still have not agreed to sell, according to Richard Tranter, the developers' attorney. If an agreement isn't reached by Oct. 1, the city must use eminent domain or risk losing the project, according to the redevelopment agreement council passed unanimously last month.

Eminent domain is a government's power to take private property for a public purpose at a price decided by the courts. Final action authorizing city attorneys to file eminent domain against the holdouts could be taken at council's next meeting Sept. 23, Burke said.

Tuesday's vote - with "no" votes by Councilmen Keith Moore and John Fenton - could be an indication of what the final vote will be on proceeding with eminent domain.

Both said they opposed taking private property solely on the grounds that an urban renewal study found signs of blight in the neighborhood.

"I'm very supportive of the project," Fenton said.

Holdout property owner Joe Horney said he was encouraged by the vote. Still, it would take two more "no" votes to block approval of eminent domain by the necessary super-majority of council.


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