In its last act as a Town Council, Strasburg council members voted on Monday night not to condemn a piece of property in the Strasburg Business Park that would have led to allowing the town to extend Borden Mowery Drive to Radio Station Road.
Monday night’s work session marked the final meeting of the Town Council before seats are shaken up today with new members and mayor. On the table was a resolution that has been bouncing around council chambers for years over a contentious deal stretching back to 2003.
After annexing the business park in 2013, the town began putting pieces in place to determine the best way to leverage its investments and the spark to spur economic growth. One piece of the plan Strasburg committed to was extending Borden Mowery Drive to Radio Station Road. However, one piece of property, owned by Butch Dellinger, rests over the most direct route for the town to build the extension.
Town Manager Wyatt Pearson said on Tuesday that discussions over Dellinger’s property stretch back to 2003 when, after having the property rezoned and promising to give the town a right of way to extend the road, Dellinger changed his mind.
Pearson said Dellinger is not willing to sell the town his property and one option, which council members ultimately rejected, was for the town to issue a resolution of condemnation, forcing Dellinger’s hand.
The resolution would have allowed the town to make an offer to Dellinger for his property with the “sole intention of negotiating the sale of the property,” Pearson said. The town’s offer would have to be fair market value and would involve the town attorney.
If Dellinger rejected the offer, the town attorney would work to exercise the town’s eminent domain rights to seize the property from him.
Several council members expressed frustration with the fact that the Borden Mowery Drive project is good for the town and necessary for continued economic growth but individual property rights were not something to toss aside lightly.
After weighing the economic benefit for the town against the imposition of government on a citizen as well as the economic cost the town would likely incur in the process of taking the property, council members voted down the resolution in a 7 to 1 vote.
Scott Terndrup was the lone dissenting council member.
Pearson said the next council could bring the resolution back to the table by advertising another public hearing and working through the issues themselves. He said he will be discussing all the possible measures for the town to take with the new council but, realistically, options are limited.
Besides running over Dellinger’s right-of-way, the town would have to build across a series of natural gas transmission lines, a cost that, Pearson said, the town has not seriously pursued because of their “exorbitant” cost.
“There’s no way around Mr. Dellinger's property that’s feasible other than crossing natural gas transmission lines, and even that would have an impact on his property,” Pearson said.
Council members Kim Bishop, Ken Cherrix, John Massoud, Taralyn Nicholson, Barbara Plitt, Emily Reynolds, Jocelyn Vena and Terndrup were present for Monday’s work session.