Village officials are prepared to enter into eminent-domain proceedings over seven properties near U.S. Route 62 and Central College Road.

Village officials are prepared to enter into eminent-domain proceedings over seven properties near U.S. Route 62 and Central College Road.

Council approved seven ordinances July 21 to allow officials to file eminent-domain proceedings with the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas.

Law director Mitch Banchefsky said litigation would be the last resort.

"We are going to continue to work with property owners," he said.

Ordinances were approved regarding property owned by Herbert and Bertha Kellett, Washington Enterprises, First Alliance Properties, Roy Lee Boley, John and Deborah Bessler, Alma Meade and Willard and Patricia Zarley.

The village plans to redesign the intersection, add a traffic signal and install additional leisure trails.

"I know council doesn't like dealing with eminent domain, but that is the only way we can get this done," Banchefsky told council. "The village has gone through great lengths negotiating with residents."

Banchefsky said the village has hired professional negotiators to work with residents, but officials could file with the court before negotiations are completed.

He said the village could withdraw the filing at any time to settle. He also said the village has had the properties appraised professionally.

If all seven property owners accept the village's current offers, the village will pay a total of $133,500 for the sites.

Herbert Kellett, who lives at 10337 Johnstown Road, said he has retained a lawyer and plans to go to court over the issue.

According to council's ordinance, the village is asking for half an acre of the Kelletts' property for intersection improvements and 0.1 acre to use temporarily for construction.

Council approved a payment of $19,135 for their property.

Patricia Zarley, who lives at 5760 Babbitt Road, said she and her husband, Willard, likely would settle with the village.

Council's ordinance approved a $425 payment to the Zarleys for a temporary-construction easement on 0.02 acre of their property.

"We'll probably accept their offer," she said.

Alma Meade, who lives at 10342 Johnstown Road, said she would not comment on the situation.

Larry Meade, Alma's son, approached council in May on his mother's behalf. He expressed concerns that the construction would limit his mother's ability to get out of her house.

"She is going to have problems with construction in front of her house at all times," he told council in May. "This is not fair for her."

According to the ordinance, the village wants 0.013 acre for a channel easement and two slope easements and 0.07 acre for a temporary-construction easement.

The village is offering Meade $2,300 for the property.

Banchefsky said a temporary-construction easement is a lot like the village renting the land and paying a rental value.

Joe Stefanov, village administrator, said timing is essential.

He said the project originally was to start July 1, but New Albany officials asked the OPWC for a month extension on the grant.

The OPWC grant and loan combination equals about $1.7-million.

The total project is estimated to cost more than $2-million.

He said the village originally was expected to contribute about $186,000 to the project but now expects it to be an additional $100,000 to $200,000.

He said the village must maintain progress.

"At this point, the village is entitled to move forward with this construction process," Banchefsky said. "Hopefully, we will continue to negotiate even after the eminent-domain action is filed."

gmartineau@thisweeknews.com