Ridley warns it will take time to wrap up right-of-way for grant project
If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
Grady County officials expressed confidence Tuesday night they will be able to acquire the last six remaining tracts of right-of-way needed for a Community Development Block Grant project in south Grady County within the 12-month deadline to do so.
Gabe Ridley, attorney for the commission, updated the board on the right-of-way acquisition effort. Unfortunately, Ridley reported he had only received one response to 20 certified letters mailed to persons with an interest in the six tracts needed.
The county was awarded $685,461 last August to pave and make road and drainage improvements to a county road and two private drives in south Grady County.
The county successfully negotiated and obtained donated right-of-way for 54 tracts, but the six remaining are proving difficult.
The one response Ridley has received indicated the property in question was estate property and there is no one living who has the authority to donate or negotiate the purchase of the property.
Ridley said he cannot see any other alternative than to condemn the properties in question. He acknowledged that was the same advice attorney Charles Ferenchick had given the board last March.
According to the county attorney, once the period for responses has passed, the appraisals can be done and that will take approximately four weeks to complete. A formal offer will have to be issued and 30 days in which those with an interest in the property to accept or reject the purchase price. If that is unsuccessful, then condemnation action would be filed through the courts.
Ridley said,“We are moving forward, but unfortunately it’s a slow, time consuming process. When there are federal funds involved there are federal requirements we must comply with in addition to state requirements that must also be complied with before we can go to court.”
Ridley said he was not expecting anyone to challenge the property values or the taking of the property.
According to the attorney, the county has one year from the date the grant was awarded to acquire the necessary right-of-way. “I don’t see that as an issue,” Ridley said.
Grady County Commissioner Ray Prince said the county could always request an extension.
Grady County administrator J.C. (Buddy) Johnson III, said Tuesday night that the expense of the appraisals, attorney’s fees, court fees, and acquisition cost for the six remaining tracts would have to be paid out of the county’s general fund and not out of grant funds.
“Whatever it costs, it’s on us,” Johnson said.
Ferenchick estimated last year the costs of appraisal fees, legal fees and court costs would be approximately $35,000. The actual cost of acquisition would be added to that expense.
The estimated project cost, based on estimates provided last August, is $985,633 with the county being responsible for $300,172 in match and leverage on the project, which is for paving of less than two miles of roadway on Johnson Road, Pine Lakes Drive and Pine Hill Lakes Drive and installation of approximately 1,200 linear feet of drainage pipe.
Based on public documents, the project will benefit 140 Grady County residents, 127 of whom are low to moderate income households.
Commissioner Prince had told the members of the county commission last August the project could likely go out to bid in “two to three months.” It appears now that it will be closer to a year before that takes place.
In related business, the board voted unanimously to pay consulting engineer Stacy Watkins $10,948.50, which is the balance of the $32,392 in engineering fees the county is required to pay as part of its match and leverage for the project. The remainder of Watkins’ $85,774 fee will be paid out of grant proceeds.