Property owners derail hospital access road

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 10, 2003

The idea of building an access road from Culkin Road to the River Region Medical Center is at a dead end, said District 1 Supervisor David McDonald, adding that grant money will be forfeited.

The project, extending Mount Alban Road through a wooded area to the east side of the hospital on U.S. 61 North, required six property owners to sell.

McDonald said agreements could not be reached on prices for some parcels.

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“The way we obtain property is we get an appraisal on the property, and then we get a review appraisal,” McDonald said. “We did all of that and approached the property owners with the appraisal amounts, and several of the property owners were not satisfied.”

McDonald said appraisals ranged from $36.06 to $28,000, but some owners wanted up to seven times as much.

“We just couldn’t pay them that by state law,” McDonald said.

Bobbie Kitchens, who owns almost nine acres of the land needed, said she and other property owners were willing to sell, but not for what the county was offering.

“We need the road, but we can’t afford to give our land away,” she said. “We were willing to go ahead if they gave us what our land was worth.”

After Tanner Construction Co. Inc. of Ellisville was awarded a bid in September 2000 to build three access roads to River Region from U.S. 61, Warren County was left with $1.4 million from the Economic Development Highway Program grant used to fund the project. The decision was made then to build a secondary access road from Culkin that could be used by employees or in the event U.S. 61 was blocked or closed.

McDonald said building the access road is now a dead issue.

“We are going to lose the $1.4 million grant, and the county is not going to (come back later and) put up $1.4 million,” he said. “We approached the hospital to see if they’d be willing to pay the property owners above the appraisal value and the hospital said they were not going to put any more money into it.”

McDonald said the issue died after he told owners that they would be paid the appraisal value.

“Several of the property owners said they’d just as soon keep their property,” he said. “I don’t fault any of the property owners, it is their choice.”

Warren County developer Pete Buford said he owns land that has been cleared just north of River Region Medical Center.

Buford said at one time he planned to develop the land, but the hospital did not bring as much growth to the area as anticipated.

The county did not consider the secondary access road a public need and chose not to seek forced sales through eminent domain, which would allow a jury to decide the value of the properties and require owners to sell.

McDonald said about 5 to 7 percent of the $1.4 million grant had been spent for survey and design work to determine a path for the road. Some owners’ land was optioned, but no purchases were made.

In other actions, the board:

Approved driveway permit applications at 308 Dogwood Lake Drive, 6273 Bovina Cut-off Road, 6705 Paxton Road and Lot 5 Dogwood Lake Drive.

Approved three temporary easements, one on Southern Road, one on Mount Alban Road and one on Rawhide Road.

Approved utility bond waivers for seven businesses.

Approved to seal Short Sherman Avenue and extend the sealing along Oak Ridge Road.