Yukon files suit against property owners

By TERRY GROOVER
tgroover@theyukonreview.com

The City of Yukon wasted little time Wednesday filing condemnation lawsuits against two property owners and an outdoor advertising company.
The city is seeking to obtain the property for rights-of-way needed for a major road project to move forward
The lawsuits, which claim eminent domain, were approved Tuesday by the Yukon City Council against local property owners Tony Kouba and Clarence Wright.
In addition, the city filed a lawsuit against Lamar Advertising seeking to condemn an outdoor advertising sign located near the former route of Vandament Avenue.
The roadway was relocated earlier this year to make way for an interchange that would provide access to Frisco Road from Interstate 40.
The project, which is being funded through a combination of federal, state and local monies, is expected to cost about $17 million.
Yukon and Oklahoma City are expected to share in the cost of the project.
Kuoba owns property that is needed to create the eastbound off-ramp from Interstate 40. In addition, a he owns land that the city both needs permanently and temporarily along Frisco Road for the relocation of utilities.
In all, the city needs to obtain about five acres from Kuoba.
The city also needs to obtain about an acre from the Wright family.
In April, Oklahoma City filed court documents seeking to condemn the Kuoba and Wright properties in Canadian County District Court. The property is officially in Oklahoma City.
However, they dismissed their case in May after an appraiser said the property was valued at $12 per foot for the permanent easement and $6 per foot for the temporary easement.
That put the value of the combined properties at almost $4 million.
Because the property is needed, Yukon has stepped in and is now seeking to condemn the property.
Crosby said the appraiser’s valuation of the property is much too high.
Property adjacent to the sought land is valued at between $1 and $2 per foot.
He also pointed out that this is farmland that is unimproved. It doesn’t have water, sewer or any other utilities.
“We feel the price is exorbitant,” Crosby said.
Crosby said he believes he can work out an agreement with the landowners. However, if they can’t come to terms, the city is willing to go to trial and let a jury decide the value.
“These are good people. This is just business,” said Crosby.
While the lawsuits were filed early Wednesday, Crosby said he is continuing to negotiate with the two property owners with hopes to come up with a more equitable price.
Crosby also said many of the other property owners in the area already have provided easements. Most of those were by donation.
By filing the condemnation paperwork, Crosby said the city is seeking to gain access to the property so that local utilities will be able to relocate their lines.
The state Department of Transportation will not bid the project until the utilities have been moved, Crosby said.
As of now, the project is scheduled to go to bid in January with work beginning with 60 days of when the contract is awarded.
Officials have estimated it will take about 18 months to complete the project.

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