ST. PETER — The St. Peter City Council will consider eminent domain as a means to get 2,700 square feet of land for a possible roundabout at the intersection of Old Minnesota Avenue and West St. Julien Street.
The city had originally planned to build a roundabout at the intersection when Minnesota Department of Transportation rebuilt a section of Highway 169 in 2014. Engineers expect traffic to increase four-fold by 2030 to more than 10,000 cars per day on average.
Community Development Director Russ Wille said that three of the four property owners had agreed to city offers to buy necessary land for the potential roundabout. National Retail Properties, owner of the site of Carquest Auto Parts, is the lone holdout, as Northern Con-Ag, McDonald’s and Holiday gas station property owners have agreed.
“National Retail is not interested in negotiation and has actually suggested that the city begin eminent domain actions,” Wille said.
An appraisal from March 2014 said the 2,721-square-foot parcel required was worth $21,250. A second appraisal in April 2015 said it was worth $16,400. Wille recommended that the council make a last written offer based on the appraisal through Dan Wilson of Wilson Development Services. If National Retail Properties refused the offer, Wilson would begin the formal eminent domain process.
“Would the request just to be for the final offer?” asked Councilman Roger Parras. “There would not be another approval needed for eminent domain?”
City Administrator Todd Prafke said, “No, there would not be another approval for eminent domain.”
Parras said, “I can’t go along with eminent domain, so if this resolution contains that, I can’t support it.”
Councilman Chuck Zieman said, “I would feel differently about eminent domain if it affected a private, residential property, but this won’t affect their business, so it’s different.”
Public use projects are allowable reasons for eminent domain under Minnesota law. The property owner is compensated even if the property moves into eminent domain proceedings.
Whether National Retail Properties accepts the offer or not, the city is not close to actually building a new intersection there and it may not be a roundabout.
“Now is the time to have the property in place so that everyone in the neighborhood understands what is going to occur,” Prafke said. “We won’t build a roundabout in the next year or two.”
He said that the McDonald’s and Holiday locations may be due for renovations in coming years, which may play into the timing. The council will see a resolution on the matter in the next six to eight weeks, Prafke said.
Wille said National Retail Properties may agree to the offer to avoid legal proceedings.
“There are expenses for them, too, if they continue on the fight,” he said. “For a $21,000 or $16,000 offer, I don’t know how hard you fight.”