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Jury: City owes $1.6 million for land

  City used eminent domain to acquire property for wetlands

   H&N Staff Writer

     The city of Klamath Falls will have to pay an additional $1.56 million for ownership of 60 acres it acquired through eminent domain, according to court documents.

   A Klamath County Circuit Court jury determined the fair cash market value of 60 acres of land near Lake Ewauna was $1.66 million. It was initially valued at $100,000 by the city when the property was condemned in September 2007 to create wetlands. The city agreed to pay the $100,000 and obtained the property through eminent domain.

   The property owners, Pine Cone LLC and the Modoc Lumber Co., filed a condemnation lawsuit against the city. The jury returned its verdict late Wednesday.  

   The city’s eminent domain action came after wetlands were eliminated near the Klamath Falls Airport to avoid collisions between airplanes and birds. The city planned to build new wetlands on the property near Lake Ewauna. Pine Cone also is entitled to seek reimbursement for legal costs, according to a press release.

   “I think it’s safe to say that their private property rights were totally vindicated by that decision. It was a very satisfying verdict,” said Jill Gelineau, attorney for Pine Cone.

   Pine Cone representatives must now submit a form of judgment to the court. City officials said they would consider appealing the decision.

   “Appeal is a possibility. We just haven’t explored all the options,” said City Attorney Rick Whitlock.

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              Page Updated: Saturday November 21, 2009 01:34 AM  Pacific

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