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With spring coming and the construction season approaching, Waitsfield is making plans to continue work on its municipal water project, including moving forward with condemning two parcels of land adjacent to Reed Road.

 The select board, at a March 21 meeting, voted to move forward with the condemnation of approximately 1.71 acres from Jean Damon and 1.22 acres from Virginia Houston. The town has been in negotiations with the two landowners since December and the town has made an offer to the landowners, expecting a response 10 days ago.

That land provides the town with access to a well it drilled in the right of way of Reed Road in 2006. Last fall, a Superior Court judge ruled the town had not proven that Reed Road was a town road. The town began negotiating with the landowners to purchase the parcels and simultaneously began the process of condemnation.

The town held a very well-attended public hearing on January 31, initiating the condemnation process and continued negotiating as well. At that hearing the town’s assessor reported that the value of the property subject to condemnation was $93,600. Of that figure, the compensation due to Virginia Houston is $38,937 and the compensation due to Jean Damon is $58,762 (Damon is due $4,100 in additional compensation for diminished value of her retained land, according to the select board’s notice of decision).

A state judge will ultimately hear the condemnation request and will fix the actual amount the parties will be paid. The town 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.

Work on Waitsfield’s municipal water project got underway last fall and was slated to resume this spring – until the Superior Court ruling halted all work pending purchase or condemnation of the affected land.

Because the state and federal agencies that are funding the project require commitments and specific timelines, the town will recommence its work in April but will not conduct work on the land involving the well site. That work will get underway once the property has been purchased or the town takes title through condemnation.