A plan to add turn lanes and other improvements to a stretch of Kansas Highway 7 in Olathe, also known as Parker Ave., has led to the city suing the owners of the last 13 pieces of property needed for the project.
The lawsuit was filed Dec. 1 in Johnson County District Court. It asks for a judge to determine that the city has the right to seize the properties by eminent domain and to appoint three independent appraisers to determine the value that the city should pay the owners.
The Olathe City Council last month authorized staff to begin acquiring right-of-way and easements for the project. At the time, staff said they needed to acquire parts of 34 tracts of land, meaning they have reached agreements with more than half of the owners already.
Among the landowners being sued are the owners of 7-Eleven and Sonic Drive-In as well as a number of private individuals and couples.
City Attorney Ron Shaver said the city is not taking any entire lots, only pieces to allow the existing road to be widened and to relocate utility lines.
City Engineer Celia Duran said the project will add a landscaped median down the middle of K-7 from Santa Fe Street to Old 56 Highway. It also will add turn lanes at several intersections and replace existing traffic signals and streetlights.
The project is expected to cost $5.7 million, with $2 million coming from federal dollars.
Shaver said condemnation suits like this are common, with the city filing three of four a year for such things as improvements to roads, intersections and storm-water management.
Earlier this year, the city requested eminent domain to acquire land for the new Johnson County Courthouse in downtown Olathe. He added that his office continues to negotiate with the landowners and have dismissed past suits if it reaches agreements before the meeting of the court-appointed appraisers.
Shaver said the city needs to acquire all of the necessary right-of-way and easements by the first quarter of 2018 so construction on the K-7 improvements can begin by the fall.
David Twiddy: firstname.lastname@example.org