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DRAPER — A charter school in Draper is hoping eminent domain may be exerted to resolve a land dispute that administrators say has restricted access to the school’s property.
American Preparatory Academy chief operations officer Tim Evancich said the school, located at 11938 Lone Peak Parkway, has been unable to use a neighboring public road with a traffic light because of a disputed 2-foot-wide strip of land that runs parallel to the school’s southern property boundary.
“Rather than our public school having access to that public road where the traffic light was installed for us, we’re having to use what was intended to be a temporary road to have ingress and egress for our school,” Evancich said. “Our neighbor to the south has prevented us from getting access to that public road.”
Evancich said the neighbor, Price Real Estate, has claimed it owns the 2-foot-wide strip.
The matter is at the heart of an active lawsuit filed by American Preparatory Academy of Draper as well as other groups.
Evancich said the inability to utilize the public road has led to a potentially hazardous backup along Lone Peak Parkway and has also raised concerns about emergency access to the school.
“We’ve already had an instance where the fire department had to chuck their duffel bags and climb a fence to try to help a kid who had a broken leg and could have had a femoral artery severed,” Evancich said. “They were blocked by this gate (and) had to climb over to try and save a student, so we’re very concerned about access to this roadway.”
A statement from the developer declined to comment directly on the dispute because of the pending litigation.
“We have loved working with Draper City for the past 20 years and value partnerships,” Lone Peak Business Park director of leasing and business development Angela Eldredge said in the statement. “We have a strong commitment to economic development, as well as growing the local economy. We are also focused on life-safety issues. We should all be working diligently to protect the safety of children, as well as keeping our thriving businesses secure.”
Evancich said the school is having to spend $300,000 to buy and demolish a home on Election Road to create emergency access.
“The neighbors hate that idea; we hate that idea,” Evancich said. “We hate spending up to $300,000 in tax dollars, public tax dollars, to [demolish] a house and put in a drive that could easily be accommodated by gaining access to this public road we’ve been fighting for three-and-a-half years."
Evancich said the school is hoping the Utah State Charter School Board will eventually elect to exercise eminent domain rights over the strip of land.
He said the school had hoped Draper City would take that action, but Draper spokeswoman Maridene Alexander said the city viewed the matter as an issue between two private landowners.
Evancich said the need for additional access onto the school’s property will be increasing as American Preparatory Academy expands its facilities and enrollment.
“Our demand is definitely going to go up,” Evancich said. “We have a plan for being able to accommodate the carpool traffic and part of that will be an offset schedule, but the increased number of students and the increased activity on-site makes it all the more important that we get access to that public roadway.”