Castle Rock readies for road project land acquisitions, offer letters pending

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Residents along the North Meadows Extension will soon receive offer letters from Castle Rock as the town seeks a right-of-way for the road.

Town council on Feb. 19 gave final approval to use eminent domain for the first phase of the project. Approval was on emergency adoption to make it effective immediately and opened the door for the town to buy property easements, according to a staff report from Bob Slentz, town attorney.

The legal process required to get easements for a road project is an arduous task that typically takes month of preparation, Slentz said. With the council’s approval of eminent domain, real negotiations can begin, he said.

“This is making a lot of people’s lives miserable at town hall, in terms of getting the right-of-way done,” Slentz said. “It takes a lot of effort and coordination to get it right, with zero margin for error.” 

The first phase of the project will extend North Meadows Drive east of Castle View High School to U.S. Highway 85/Santa Fe Drive. The largest property owners in the first phase are the Douglas County School District and the Castle Rock Development Co., developer of The Meadows, said Bob Goebel, public works director.

Others are private homeowners who will be impacted by the construction of noise walls along the road, Goebel said. In most cases, the noise walls will replace cedar fences already in place, he said.

The school district is working with the town to dedicate its property to the project, Goebel said. The town is working on a revision to the Castle Rock Development Co. development agreement to convey the necessary easements, he said.

Dozens of homeowners will receive a notice of intent and offer letters from the town, Slentz said. If the town believes the value of the acquisition exceeds $5,000, the homeowner is entitled to a third-party appraisal, at the town’s expense, he said. 

If negotiations fail, the town would file a petition for condemnation, which requires a legal hearing and trial to agree on property value, Slentz said.

Officials don’t expect to use condemnation for the first phase of the project, Goebel said. He anticipates a more time-consuming process during the second phase of the project, east of Santa Fe Drive.

“That is the most complex structure on the project,” he said. “There will be a large bridge over Plum Creek, over the railroad tracks and a new interchange at U.S. (Highway) 85. It will be a big elevated structure. We’re dealing with several properties.”

Councilmembers gave final approval to dedicate a portion of the town’s sales and use taxes to pay for a $20 million bond issuance to help pay for the project. Construction is expected to begin in April.  

North Meadows Extension plans

Early 2013 — Final design projected to be complete.

Spring 2013 — Potential construction start date.

Fall/winter 2015 — Projected construction completion.

Source: crgov.com