UDOT Continues Condemning Land for Legacy Highway Use

UDOT Continues Condemning Land for Legacy Highway Use

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FARMINGTON, Utah (AP) -- While construction of the Legacy Highway has been tied up in federal court, the Utah Department of Transportation has been proceeding with condemnation of land for the highway route.

Twenty-seven percent of the condemnation still await resolution, said Tom Hudachko, UDOT spokesman.

Property involved in condemnation in Davis County ranges from a half-acre to almost 70 acres, and settlement amounts range from $3,000 up to $1.4 million.

UDOT budgeted about $70 million to acquire land, Hudachko said. So far it has spent $60 million.

Attorney Todd Weiler is preparing to represent Hogan Construction & Associates at a jury trial June 24 if negotiations with the state fail.

Weiler said UDOT's first appraiser valued Hogan's property at $900,000. A second appraiser put the value at $600,000.

Jonathon Cook, who appraised property for another Legacy client of Weiler's, valued Hogan's property at $1.2 million, Weiler said.

Weiler said the disputed property is actually two pieces. UDOT condemned property where the construction company had its business headquarters, so the company moved several blocks away. UDOT then changed the alignment of the highway and condemned part of the lot where the company had relocated.

For those who do not want to deal with the court system, there is another option: the state's private property ombudsman, Craig Call.

Call's No. 1 responsibility is to answer questions concerning condemnation laws. He also is available to mediate or arbitrate disputes between property owners and governments or utility companies. For the past six years, he has handled at least 600 cases a year.

He has mediated dozens of cases involving Legacy Parkway but believes he will not see any more because UDOT is close to acquiring the property needed.

Call said some government agencies do not inform property owners about his position. A proposed bill for the next Legislative session would make it illegal for a government body not to tell property owners about the private property ombudsman.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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