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Eminent domain wrap up costs taxpayers

JOHNSTOWN — Fulton County will be reimbursing the Fulton County Industrial Development Agency for over $6,800 in legal expenses incurred in last spring’s canceled eminent domain procedure involving properties owned by the late Robert Bowe.

The Fulton County Board of Supervisors earlier this year authorized the IDA to initiate an eminent domain proceeding for Bowe’s two parcels. That resolution specified that related expenses that the IDA incurred — primarily legal expenses — would be reimbursed to it by the county.

The property had been sought after by the county, although pursuit was short-lived, The Board of Supervisors voted June 10 not to pursue eminent domain proceedings to obtain Bowe’s land.

County Administrative Officer Jon Stead told the Board of Supervisors’ Economic Development and Environment Committee last week at the County Office Building that the county now owes the IDA $6,898 in legal fees incurred in the terminated eminent domain procedure.

“We all made the decision at some point to abandon that eminent domain process,” Stead said.

The committee voted to sponsor a resolution for Tuesday’s full board meeting to reimburse the IDA.

Fulton County has for some time been interested in creating a Hales Mills Development Area. That property was owned by Bowe. In summer 2018, Bowe put up for sale a 69-acre parcel on the west side of Hales Mills Road Extension and an 89.5-acre parcel on the road’s east side. Bowe sought $5,000 per acre, the county offered only $3,000 per acre. Bowe passed away May 27, but prior that, the county made an attempt to acquire the land through eminent domain. After public backlash, the Fulton County Board of Supervisors decided not to pursue eminent domain proceedings to obtain Bowe’s land.

The Bowe property is currently involved in probate proceedings, and the county is now waiting to determine if it can be purchased.

“I’m not sure where the funding would come from” to pay the IDA, Stead said.

But that funding issue was expected to be worked out eventually by the county’s Finance Committee.

County officials say the 370-acre Hales Mills Development Area is being considered in two phases. Phase I would be 230 acres, while Phase II would be 140 acres.

The first phase, Henze said, would look to create 425 housing units. That phase would include the following elements: mixed use development, one convenience store/gas station, six commercial/office buildings. 11,500 linear feet of roads, an upgraded Hales Mills Road Extension, 78 Triplex townhouse buildings containing 234 housing units, and six apartment buildings containing 191 housing units.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.

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