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Lawsuit filed by county, not landowner

To the Editor:

Under the section titled, “Engineer charges county for testimony,” it was incorrectly stated that I, Aaron Allen, initiated a lawsuit against the county. The eminent domain lawsuit was filed by the Board of County Commissioners. I have at no time filed suit against the county. Their claims of a “counter” lawsuit are completely false. Either the commissioners are completely ignorant of the law or they are out-right liars.

The reason they called the engineers to testify was to prove their suit against me, not to defend against my lawsuit. The commissioners, as well as the county attorney, should have been aware that the engineers would charge a fee for their time in court. This should have been negotiated in advance and should have come as no surprise.

More than a year ago, the county approached me with plans to replace a bridge on 140th Road. This bridge is located in front of my house. While they only need a small portion of land, this project will drastically change the appearance of my front yard because of the clearing of trees and the addition of rip-rap rock. Because there was no department head in the road and department at the time, the county commissioners took over negotiations on this project.

I use the term negotiations loosely because what occurred was not what one would consider good faith negotiations.

When we refused to accept their only offer, they pursued our land through the use of eminent domain. When you get into the detail of this abuse of the eminent domain powers of county government, you will find that the $1,599 they are paying an engineer is just a small portion of the funds they are paying to ensure that I, the landowner, get as little as possible for my property.

I did not see them complaining about paying an appraiser from Topeka $2,500 after a well-known and well-respected local appraiser appraised my property (at the request of the county) at an amount higher than what the commissioners believed it was worth.

They did not mention that their good faith negotiations were to offer an amount and when it was met with a counter offer, to lower their offer and make threats of eminent domain. In fact, the very first time we met with the commissioners they called in the county attorney and threatened us with the use of “emergency injunction” and condemnation.

They have refused to consider alternatives or other solutions, even those suggested by Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.

They have used nothing but threats and intimidation throughout this entire process. I have found through speaking with other residents in the county that this is a pattern of behavior for these commissioners.

I have made no secret of this situation. I do not believe that this issue should be in the political arena. My decisions is to run for county commission is only related to this issue in regards to how I have seen the current commission operate. However, I do believe the commissioners used last Monday’s commission meeting to make false accusations about me because of the upcoming election.

Aaron Allen
Florence

Last modified Nov. 5, 2008

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