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Negotiations with property owner are ongoing

by Megan Doyle 9/29/07 Herald and News

   The City of Klamath Falls will use eminent domain to acquire former Modoc Lumber property, officials said Friday.
   Negotiations between the property owner, Pine Cone LLC, and the city are ongoing, but the city will acquire the property because it needs ownership by Sunday to guarantee $6.2 million in federal funds for its bird strike hazard mitigation project.
   The city offered $100,000 for the site based on an appraisal completed by its contractor. Pine Cone LLC also is having the site appraised, but its appraisal will not be completed by Sunday.
   City officials will continue discussions with Pine Cone LLC regarding a purchase price for the property.
   The company planned to develop the property, said Rob Shaw, managing partner of Pine Cone LLC. Pine Cone LLC is developing TimberMill Shores, a residential and commercial area on Lake Ewauna.
   The bird strike hazard mitigation project and property acquisition will allow the city to close off wetlands near the Klamath Falls Airport in exchange for creating a wetland at the Lake Ewauna site. The airport site will be drained and covered with gates to keep all wildlife from the area, said airport director Derek Martin.
   Airport officials say birds using the wetlands are in the flight path of planes and can get sucked into engines, causing a crash.
   T he Federa l Av iation Administration supports mitigating bird incidents and is helping to finance projects.
   Property unused
   The Lake Ewauna site was chosen because of its location and because there hasn’t been anything happening at the property for years, Martin said.
   “I don’t know how many businesses want to be located next to the city dump,” he said.
   Other sites the city considered weren’t large enough. To meet the state and federal requirements, the city must create a wetland area equal to the one it closes to wildlife.
   City officials also looked at property near the Running Y Ranch, which was under development, and a site on Upper Klamath Lake that was not practical to partition from a larger piece of property.
   It will take work to prepare the Modoc Lumber site for wetlands.
   “It currently is not being used,” Shaw said. The property was used to store woodchips while the lumber company was operating. The woodchips are still piled at the site.
   “We’re trying to find a positive use for it rather than dumping it,” Shaw said.
   Pine Cone LLC could sell the woodchips for use in landscaping or horse arenas.
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