Summit County Council approves eminent domain to takeover site for future fire station
The Summit County Council agreed to support the North Summit Fire District’s effort to acquire property in Tollgate Canyon for a future fire station by eminent domain, an exercise of power that is rarely used in the county.
The fire district has been leasing a small portion of a larger parcel in Tollgate Canyon from the Pinemeadow Ranch homeowners association for nearly five years. The district has used the land as a temporary staging site for equipment while negotiations to purchase the property for a permanent fire station have been underway.
The homeowner’s association requires 2/3 of homeowners in Pinemeadow Ranch to approve a transfer of property. But, a limited number of primary homeowners has made it challenging to get the necessary number of votes to sell the property to the fire district, with an absent vote constituting as a ‘No’, according to Helen Strachan, deputy county attorney.
The county attorney’s office suggested acquiring the property through friendly condemnation since the fire district as a special service district has the power of eminent domain. Eminent domain an be used to purchase public buildings for county or state use, according to the resolution.
Members of the Pinemeadow homeowners association attended the County Council’s discussion about the action on Wednesday. The discussion was uncontroversial, with few objecting to the fire district’s desire to acquire the land.
The fire district has discussed constructing a new fire station in Tollgate Canyon for several years to address increasing needs for service in that area of eastern Summit County.
The fire district will be required to pay the homeowners association fair market value or about $15,000 for the 3-acre portion of land it is looking to acquire. It will also be required to pay for any damages incurred as part of the condemnation. The land is part of a nearly 18-acre parcel that was appraised at around $360,000.
The County Council members were asked to approve a resolution authorizing the filing of eminent domain as the governing board of the fire district. County Councilors Kim Carson, Doug Clyde and Chris Robinson unanimously approved the resolution. County Councilors Glenn Wright and Roger Armstrong were not at the meeting.
The fire district will have to wait an additional 30 days from the authorization of the resolution to file the legal documentation.
Jennifer McDonald, a self-described lifelong Republican, was selected as the Summit County Republican Party chair last week.