Condemnation of six tracts could exceed $35,000
The Grady County Commission received an estimate of the cost for the condemnation procedures that were approved by the board on Feb. 20 as part of the county’s proposed paving of two private drives and one county road in south Grady County.
The board authorized attorney Charles Ferenchick last month to proceed with condemnation proceedings for the remaining six tracts of right-of-way needed to pave Pine Lakes Drive and Pine Hill Lakes Drive, which are both private drives, as well as Johnson Road.
Ferenchick had recommended and the board authorized he engage Georgia Department of Transportation certified appraiser Greg Crumley of Crumley and Associates Inc., of Tifton.
The board acted without asking what the cost of the process would be to acquire the remaining six of a total of 60 tracts necessary for the project right-of-way. On Tuesday, Commissioner Keith Moye asked if anyone had an estimate for the condemnation process.
County Clerk Carrie Croy shared with commissioners a memo from Ferenchick dated Feb. 28 that outlines nearly $35,000 in appraisal fees, legal fees, and court fees involved in the process.
According to Ferenchick, Crumley will charge the county $2,500 per tract for a total of $15,000 for conducting the appraisals. An additional fee would be charged if Crumley’s testimony in court is required to complete the condemnation.
Ferenchick is estimating a minimum of $18,000 to $30,000 in attorney’s fee, which would be contingent on the level and amount of contested litigation involved in acquiring the six tracts. Court filing fees and services fees are $1,224 and $650 respectively.
“Will there be enough money in the grant to pay these costs?” Moye asked.
Croy told the board members that “100 percent” of the costs would be covered by the grant.
Vice Chairman T.D. David questioned if the cost of the condemnation would reduce the amount of money available for the necessary road work. “No, they figure all that in,” Croy said.
“There’s no limit for right-of-way acquisition?” Moye asked. “No, there’s no limit,” Croy said.
Geraldine Dixon, a resident of the south Grady County neighborhood, appeared before the board Tuesday seeking an update on the project.
Vice Chairman David explained that the county was proceeding with acquiring the remaining right-of-way and that the board was approving the hiring of Bob Roberson and Associates as the administrator of the grant and Watkins & Associates as the consulting engineers on the project.
“We’re working on it,” Vice Chairman David said.
The county is planning to apply for a $750,000 Community Development Block Grant to pave and make drainage improvements to the one county road and two private drives.
The county is reapplying for the grant that was rejected late last year due to the failure of former county administrator Carlos Tobar to submit a required local government finance survey and the county’s failure to acquire in time all of the necessary rights-of-way for the project.
According to Ferenchick, Crumley will have the appraisals completed within two to three weeks and at that time the county would know the value of the tracts in question and petitions of condemnation could be filed in the court. Once those petitions are filed, the county would be able to move forward with applying for the CDBG grant, Ferenchick said.
Ferenchick’s condemnation estimates also do not include the purchase price for each tract once the appraisals are completed.
The county is facing a March 31 deadline of having the condemnation petitions filed with the court.
Former administrator Tobar proposed the grant project to county commissioners in 2016, but the board backed away in March 2016 due to concerns related to the acquisition of required rights-of-way for the project.
At that time, Tobar told commissioners he would spend the remainder of 2016 and early 2017 obtaining the necessary rights-of-way in order to submit an application by March 31, 2017.
The Grady County Commission approved making application for the grant last spring, but last September it was learned the county’s application was not approved.
The Messenger has requested, but has not been provided, the amount of money spent by the county on professional services and legal fees to date on the project as well as an estimate on the labor and equipment expense of the county road department to complete the planned improvements for Pine Lakes Drive and Pine Hill Lakes Drive as well as Johnson Road.
The grant writer is set to be paid a six percent fee of the $750,000 grant, if approved, and consulting engineer Stacy Watkins will be paid 8-12 percent of construction costs, according to county officials.
Grady County Clerk Croy recently told the commissioners there is no cash match required for the $750,000 grant, but the county’s grant writer Bob Roberson told the board in March 2016 there would be a minimum of $10,000 cash match and the majority of the county’s match would be in in-kind labor with the county road department doing all of the clearing, grubbing, and preparing of the road bed for paving.
A public hearing was held the morning of Monday, Jan. 29, on the proposed project and subsequent grant application, but no citizens attended the hearing.