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The first formal proceeding in Waitsfield's condemnation of an estimated acre of land and a portion of the traveled way on Reed Road for the town's municipal water project takes place next week.
On Monday, January 31, town representatives will gather at the town offices on Bridge Street with the landowners, their representatives and interested members of the public.
While the town begins formal condemnation proceedings, representatives from the town are continuing the town's efforts to purchase land for the town's municipal water system from two landowners.
PAY TO LANDOWNERS
The January 31 meeting begins at 4 p.m. and participants may make a site visit to Reed Road or may begin the formal discussion immediately. At that hearing the amount of money the town will pay to landowners for taking the land will be discussed.
A state judge will ultimately hear the condemnation request and will fix the actual amount the parties will be paid. The town is having an appraisal of the property prepared and is condemning the land as authorized by statute 19 V.S.A. Chapter 7 and 24 V.S.A Chapter 89.
Regardless of how Waitsfield acquires the land, either by direct purchase or condemnation, funds for the purchase are built into the project loan/grant package that the town has for the $7.6 million project.
NOT A TOWN ROAD
Waitsfield is in the process of constructing a municipal water system. Work on the project got underway this fall and is slated to resume next spring. Water for the project comes from a well drilled in the right of way of Reed Road. The town drilled the well on the assumption that Reed Road was a town road.
Last December, the Vermont Superior Court ruled that the town had not proven that the road was a town-maintained road. That requires the town to take the land or purchase the land for the project to continue.
Landowners Virginia Houston and Jean Damon/Toby Richards challenged the town's claim to the road.
AN ACRE AND PART OF THE ROAD
At issue is an estimated acre of land and a portion of the traveled way on Reed Road. Houston owns land on one side of the road and Damon/Richards own the other side of the road.
The select board, at a December 30 meeting, passed two motions calling for the town to attempt to purchase the land while simultaneously moving forward with the condemnation process.