Tuesday evening the Berryville Town Council addressed the pressing issue of securing the final holdout easements needed to complete the outfall line for the new multi-million dollar sewage treatment facility. Negotiations between the Town and three landowners had reached an impasse and the Council gathered to hear public comments and vote on motions to condemn the properties.
The attorney for the Town in this matter, Richard T, Mitchell, addressed the council to summarize the Town’s legal position. Mr Mitchell told the council that “good faith” offers had been made to each land owner based on the appraisals and that the Town has been unable to come to agreeable terms with the property owners. He further advised the council that the State Code of Virginia regarding water and sewer easements authorizes the Town to condemn the properties if necessary.
The property owners then had their opportunity to speak during the public hearing portion of the council meeting.
First, William Carl stood before the Town Council and expressed disappointment at the breakdown in negotiation. He stated the issue was not the price that town was offering, instead the issue was the level of access that is required by the Town. Mr Carl said, “My concerns were the access to this property whenever they wanted. I wanted the property fenced when they were finished and the easement for access on the outside of the property, and those issues were never really addressed with me.” Mr Carl closed by saying, “I hope that you don’t just vote to take the property from me, but that you negotiate it out.”
The second speaker in the matter was Ronald Frye. Mr Frye resides in Purcellville and owns a property on the bank of the Shenandoah. The Town has offered to buy Mr. Frye’s property outright because the location of the outfall line and the necessary access would leave him with an “uneconomic remainder of the property.” In this instance, the issue was expressed to be entirely one of price. Mr Frye contested the Town’s appraisal of the property and stated that the value of the property is $77,000 and that he offered to sell it to the Town for $75,000. The Town offered $56,000. Mr Frye said, “I’m not willing to sell it for that,” and closed his statement by simply stating, “I want a fair price.”
Phillip and Mark Shenk, who own the third property in this dispute, declined to speak at the public hearing.
Since the Town has deemed the outfall line a necessity, the vote for motion to condemn all three properties was unanimous. Council member Larry Russell was absent.
The Town will proceed to condemn for easements on the Shenk and Carl property and will condemn to purchase the Frye property.