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Summit County Council considers eminent domain against private property owners

Bitner Ranch Road Connector Google Earth Street View.PNG
Google Earth Street View
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Bitner Ranch Road

Summit County Council meets Wednesday in a work session at 1:15, with the public meeting starting at 6 p.m. KPCW reports on a possible vote to take private land through eminent domain for safety and road access in the Basin.

The Summit County Council will discuss the eminent domain action during the work session.

The land in question is owned by Newton and Kimberly Collinson and is located north of I-80 between Silver Creek and Bitner Ranch roads.

The land in question is owned by Newton and Kimberly Collinson and is located north of I-80 between Silver Creek and Bitner Ranch roads.

The Collinsons bought the property in 2019. In March of 2020, they were notified the county wanted to purchase a right of way for its Bitner Road connection project. The property was appraised in 2021and the county offered to purchase the right-of-way based on the appraised value.

This February, Newton Collinson objected to the project, stating that the road alignment would diminish his overall property value. The Collinsons said they wanted a new appraisal from a different source.

According to Summit County Public Works Director Derrick Radke, the county has not received a new estimate. Radke recommends the county council proceed with an eminent domain action.

According to County Manager Tom Fisher, the Summit County Council has rarely used the legal move, but it’s running out of options.
   
Fisher said, "We've been very successful in getting most of the right of way, or [we are] in final negotiations with a couple more property owners. But in some cases, property owners either do not want to settle in a non-legal process, or as we go through processes with the state ombudsman, to do appraisals between the parties, in that case, when we are going to build a road, and it is going to include somebody's property, sometimes we have to take eminent domain actions in order to acquire the right of way.”

Fisher said the county has been working on a connector road between the Bitner Ranch Road and Silver Creek Road for several years. Once the new road alignment decision was made connecting Bitner Ranch to Silver Creek, the county began acquiring land.
 
"There's still going to be appraisals involved as you go through a process like this getting towards what fair market value is for the land being acquired, Fisher said." "And some people prefer that as they sell the property. So, not sure what the motivations are. In this case, I have not been in direct contact with [the] property owners, but this action is ready to be started."

Also on the agenda is approving the Summit County Open Space Advisory Committee (OSAC) appointments during the work session. The committees will study and recommend property purchases to be funded through last year’s $50 million voter-approved open space bond.

Council will take public comment at 6 p.m. for anything not on the agenda. The meeting will be live-streamed through the county's Facebook page.

You can join the meeting through a zoom link on the county website. The county also provides a phone dial-in link that allows the public to listen to the meeting. Go to Summit County.org/agendacenter for details.

Corrected: July 7, 2022 at 4:59 PM MDT
An earlier version of this report misspelled Bitner Ranch Road.
KPCW reporter Carolyn Murray covers Summit and Wasatch County School Districts. She also reports on wildlife and environmental stories, along with breaking news. Carolyn has been in town since the mid ‘80s and raised two daughters in Park City.