MILTON, Ga. — The Milton City Council approved a resolution Aug. 5 to invoke eminent domain on a property at the intersection of Thompson Road and Hopewell Road to construct a roundabout. While the property owner and the city can continue to negotiate on price, the resolution allows Milton to move forward in the condemnation process.
The city needs the entirety of the 1-acre property, owned by 158 Creamer Road LLC, to construct the roundabout, but the owner has not agreed to sell the parcel for what the city deems a fair market price.
Milton has appraised the parcel at $132,600, but the owner rejected the offer and countered at $250,000 according to City Attorney Ken Jarrard. The city counter-offered an undisclosed amount higher than its original offer, but that proposal was also rejected, spurring the council to approve the resolution invoking eminent domain.
“What this does is set up a court process where we will pay an amount into the registry of the court, and we both negotiate and, candidly, litigate with that property owner over the competing values,” Jarrard said. “Ultimately if we are not able to work anything out…the jury will decide the fair market value.”
The eminent domain action is the ninth the city has pursued for road projects since its inception in 2006. Prior condemnation resolutions have been accepted for properties in downtown Crabapple, at the intersection of Hopewell Road/Francis Road/Cogburn Road and for the Providence Road/Birmingham Highway roundabout.
The city acquired five properties by invoking eminent domain, but only one has been through condemnation. The others were either settled after a resolution was passed or the properties were bank owned.
According to city documents related to this latest roundabout project, the city met with the property owner in May 2018. The original owner, Preston Wright, said he would prefer the roadway not be offset and “expressed acceptance of any alternative, despite potential for displacement.”
“With this condemnation, the city is not trying to go and just take someone’s property, but the property is needed for the roundabout, and the city has tried in earnest to offer a very fair [offer], over and above appraised value of the property,” said Mayor Joe Lockwood. “If we move forward, there will still be negotiation with owner.”
The property is one of four right-of-way acquisitions the city will make for the future roundabout. According to Transportation Engineer Sara Leaders, the city is determining the value of the other properties.