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City Council tabled a decision Tuesday evening on resolutions to authorize eminent domain for acquisition of right-of-way and easements for the widening of Mount Cross Road from Lowes Drive to Parker Road. City Council also tabled a vote on whether to employ the law firm of Daniel, Medley & Kirby to present the City in the condemnation proceedings.
The decision to table votes for 60 days on the matter came after three property owners told City Council members that they believe the offers made by the City fail to compensate them for what their land is worth.
Right-of-way is being acquired to widen Mount Cross Road to four lanes from Lowes Drive to Parker Road. The needed additional right-of-way was appraised and negotiations conducted to agree on a purchase price. However, the City has not been able to reach an agreement with three of the 18 property owners. In order to proceed with construction without agreement in price, it is necessary to exercise eminent domain for the acquisition of right-of-way and easements.
Assistant Public Works Director Brian Dunevant said the City is at 70 percent of what one owner wants, and at 40 percent and 40-50 percent of what two other owners want, respectively. Dunevant expressed concern that tabling the matter for 60 days could put the Mount Cross Road widening project behind schedule, which could possibly jeopardize funding from the Virginia Department of Transportation.
With the matter tabled, negotiations between the City and the three property owners will will continue.
In other matters Tuesday night, City Council voted to:
In addition to these votes, City Council held a first reading on two matters:
A first reading is an introductory step required by City code before certain matters can be voted upon by City Council. This step serves to provide public notice of pending action. Council could not vote on the budget amendment last night. The earliest vote that can take place will be the May 2 City Council meeting.
Also in the business session, Mayor John Gilstrap presented a proclamation for “Historic Garden Day.”
In addition to the business session, City Council met in work sessions preceding and following the business session to continue its deliberations on the working draft of the budget for the next fiscal year. The City will advertise a real estate tax rate 7 cents higher than the current rate. City Council has the option of choosing a lower rate, but cannot exceed 7 cents once advertised.
In addition, the City will advertise a 50-cent increase in the personal property tax rate, a one percentage-point increase in the meals tax, a one percentage-point increase in the hotel/motel lodging tax and a 60-cent increase in the airplane personal property tax. City Council also has the option of choosing lower rates for these revenue sources.
The City is required to advertise maximum tax rate increases weeks ahead of making a final decision on the budget for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. Public hearings will be held next month. Final adoption must take place no later than June 30.
For the second work session, City Council also discussed a fixed base operator lease for the airport. A mayor’s committee will be established to further study the matter.
City Council scheduled votes on the following items for its next business session, which will be held on May 2.