Benton Goes to Court, Files Eminent Domain to Take North Corvallis Property | Government and politics

In pursuit of a North Corvallis property, Benton County leaders considered a planned court complex that included a courthouse and jail, county attorneys filed an application to take the nearly 30 acres by legal means.

Following a July 29 closed meeting, Benton County officials voted unanimously to make a final, best offer of $5,477,700 to the owner of land across from the HP Inc campus. At the time of site selection, officials estimated the land could cost between $5.6 million and $7.9 million.

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A county press release issued late Friday afternoon, September 9, says the landowner rejected the offer and, after the required 40-day waiting period, the county filed for eminent domain. , a legal process for governments to take private property.

In March, the county had made numerous multi-month offers that spanned two separate periods, according to Nick Kurth, project manager for the justice system improvement program, but could not reach an agreement.

“Eminent domain is an extremely rare path for Benton County to choose, and we do not take it lightly,” County Attorney Vance Croney said in the news release.

With negotiations failing, the county had no choice but to acquire the property through the court system, Croney said in the statement.

In eminent estate cases, the court assigns the fair market value the government must pay landowners for land it has deemed necessary for the public good.

Along with a new courthouse and correctional facility — with more capacity and programs for inmates — proposed justice improvements include a new district attorney’s office, sheriff’s office and emergency operations center. A crisis center is also planned, but it is planned in downtown Corvallis.

The new $50 million courthouse and an $8 million district attorney’s office are the first projects planned for the campus, which sits a mile north of downtown on Highway 20 The county decided to pay for their construction with borrowed funds; a 50% matching grant will help fund the courthouse.

County officials are counting on voters to approve a $100 million bond measure slated for the May ballot to cover the cost of the remaining facilities. The new courthouse and the prosecutor’s office had been removed from the bail measure.

County officials plan to preserve the historic courthouse and are considering repurposing options.

In all, the county will borrow $33 million for the courthouse and the district attorney’s office. This will double its current indebtedness. The overall justice project is expected to cost more than $167 million.

Cody Mann covers Benton County and the towns of Corvallis and Philomath. He can be reached at 541-812-6113 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter via @News_Mann_.

“Eminent domain is an extremely rare path for Benton County to choose and we do not take it lightly.” Vance Croney, county attorney