The Free Press, Mankato, MN

March 3, 2013

City may seek eminent domain

Easement would allow for sewer line

By Dan Linehan
Free Press Staff Writer

MANKATO — The City Council will decide Monday whether to seek eminent domain to build a sewer line across private property in Lime Township.

The city’s negotiations with Gerald Rausch haven’t yielded a price, City Manager Pat Hentges said.

The city isn’t looking to buy the land itself; it is seeking legal permission to use it for a specific purpose, called an easement. In this case, that purpose is to install a sewer line that will serve the to-be-annexed areas of Lime Township.

The property is located just south of the intersection of Riverfront Drive and Bittersweet Lane.

According to an appraiser hired by the city, the easement has a value of $10,500.

The value was calculated by determining the market value of the 1.31 acres of the easement and dividing that value in half. The land owner doesn’t get the full value of the land in part because he can still farm on it.

As the assessor’s report puts it, the land owner is entitled to some compensation “due to loss of certain rights due to the permanent easement.”

The Free Press was unable to get comment from Rausch.

Hentges said the eminent domain process shouldn’t delay the whole project because the city expects to have the easement within 90 days of its filing.

Nonetheless, he said, it will be necessary to begin eminent domain proceedings soon to avoid a delay.

Hentges said the next step is for the landowner to get an appraisal of his own.

Hentges said he can’t recall exactly when the city last used eminent domain to acquire land, but he said it was probably in the Raintree Road/Victory Drive project, more than five years ago.

The item is on the consent calendar for Monday’s meeting, meaning it may be voted on along with other items in a single motion. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the Intergovernmental Center.