By Myrna Trauntvein
It was listed on the agenda as the "Final Vote on Eminent Domain Vs. Herman Young and Sons Inc. Property" but, after discussion, a vote was not taken.
Commissioners have a goal to build a frontage road to force trucks into using that road, rather than Old Highway 91, to provide a bit more safety for regular travelers using Highway 91. In order to build the roadway they need three and one half acres of property belonging to Herman Young and Sons, Inc.
"We will consider all of this information and will get back to you," said Chad Winn, commission chairman, at the conclusion of the meeting.
Michael R. Carlston, attorney with Snow, Christensen & Marineau, Salt Lake City, representing Herman Young and Sons Inc. Property, and Gordon Young, representing the Young property owners, met with Juab County Commissioners to discuss the proposed taking of the Young property.
Winn said that the commission had been under a lot of pressure to build an alternate road to Highway 91but commissioners did not like to resort to eminent domain and force Young to give his property to the county.
"A life has already been lost," said Byron Woodland, commission chairman. "The person who died was one of your friends."
A price could not be placed on the life of a person, said Woodland.
Highway 91, he said, was the route used by county school buses and he had concerns for the lives of children if the gravel hauling trucks continued to use the highway to haul gravel.
Trucks come out of the gravel pits on the east of the freeway and travel along Highway 91 to Santaquin before using that freeway entrance.
A secondary problem to public safety is the fact that the county road gets damaged by all the heavy trucks.
"I don't think there will be an increase in safety," said Young.
Carlston said that they were "skeptical" that truck drivers and the companies who employed them would use the frontage road unless the county found some way to force them to do so.
It would not be practical for truckers to use the alternate route unless the county was willing to pave the road and in view of the fact that the additional mileage required for truckers to use the road would result in one to one and a half fewer runs per day.
"It happens that I am involved quite often in condemnations of property," said Carlston. "It is sobering, in a sense."
Eminent domain is the right of a government or its agent to expropriate private property for public use, with payment of compensation. The property may be taken either for government use or by delegation to third parties who will devote it to public or civic use or, in some cases, economic development. The most common uses of property taken by eminent domain are for government buildings and other facilities, public utilities, highways, and railroads; however, it may also be taken for reasons of public safety.
Winn said he was concerned a number of years ago when the supreme court allowed private business to use eminent domain.
Carlston is chair of the Real Estate Practice Group.
"We have some information for you to talk about," said Carlston. "This is a unique and complicated property."
He and Young had asked the opinion of a consultant and had questioned whether, on their own, the gravel hauling businesses involved would use the alternate road on a voluntary basis.
Valuing the property was also a complicated process, he said.
"We could end up having a dispute over the value that could end in the courts," said Carlston.
There was much in the valuation the county had done to disagree about. Neither side had gone to the expense of hiring an engineer to do a study. As for the valuation done by Jorgensen, he said, the results were not satisfactory.
"We think his calculations are very low," said Carlston. "In a condemnation, you have to appraise the whole property and then back out to know what that portion is worth."
He said, as to elevation, they were confident that they could remove gravel down to 50-feet.
Young said that was 50-feet below where the top of the grade was currently.
"Unless there is some slope regulation we are not aware of, it is our belief that we can go much further than that," said Carlston. "We believe there is double in recoverable gravel than what was appraised."
The recoverable gravel was likely worth between $130,000 to $165,000 in value alone. Discounting the labor and equipment needed to get it back to elevation post operation, the value was likely $145,000.
Factoring in the good and the bad, he said, the land is to be used for development purposes at some point in time. The Young property is close to the freeway entrance, and that, with the new development of a gas station/convenience store on the Mona side of the freeway, where the sewer is being run, it would not cost as much as had been estimated to bring the sewer to the Young property.
"This property owner is interested in the net," he said.
Carlston said that the property could garner $40,000 per acre and then, adding to that, the $145,000 in the cost of gravel, just compensation for the property needed for a frontage road, would cost the county $280,000.
That price could be discounted somewhat, he said.
The question to ask, said Young, was whether he needed to hire an engineering study done, and whether the county really wanted to get involved in a court case or whether the commission really wanted to spend that kind of money on an alternate road that will likely not work to get traffic off of Highway 91.
If the deal were to close today, asked Rick Carlton, commissioner, what would be the price that Young would be willing to sell for?
Young said, that at a discounted price, he would consider selling for $250,000.
That would also allow future access to the road by Young.
The road will not be paved and Young said that it was likely to pot hole and wash board and need attention to keep it in working order.
"We appreciate your analysis," Carlton told Carlston. "Could we get a written summation of the points you raised?"
That could be provided, said Carlston.
"Don't hire an engineer at this point," Winn told Young. "We need some time and we need to consult the road department."
"I respect your role and the process," said Carlston. "I want to be a respectful advocate.