News

Appeal is undecided

By Dennis Box

The Courier-Herald

To appeal or not to appeal, that is the question.

Members of the Bonney Lake City Council have about 30 days to decide whether to appeal the condemnation suit decision handed down by Pierce County Superior Court jury Aug. 5.

The jury awarded Schuur Brothers Construction $5 million as fair market value for 12.55 acres of land next to Allan Yorke Park.

Since the award was 10 percent higher than the city's final offer of $4.2 million, the city must also pay attorney and witness fees for Schuur and 12 percent interest from the time the property was taken in November 2004.

The city paid Schuur $1.95 million in November. The total bill is expected to be around $6 million.

The City Council condemned the property in May 2004 on a 6-1 vote with Councilman Jim Rackley dissenting. With the additional land, the city plans to expand the Allan Yorke Park, adding ball fields, trails, a play area and amphitheater.

The decision to appeal is in the hands of the council.

The city's finance department submitted an ordinance for the Tuesday council workshop, but Deputy Mayor Dan Swatman said he intended to make a motion to have it removed from the agenda.

"We haven't decided on an appeal," Swatman said. "There are some legal issues to go through. Until that is completed we can't make a decision."

The ordinance recommends using interfund loans to pay the settlement, borrowing the money from the general fund and the sewer fund and paying the loan back from park impact fees, which would be increased from $1,500 to $2,522 for new developments.

Mayor Bob Young said he put the ordinance on the agenda because he thought it needed to be discussed by the council.

Although the deputy mayor usually draws up the agenda, it is technically the mayor's agenda until the meeting convenes. The agenda then becomes the council's and members can decided whether to consider the items.

"I put it (the ordinance) on there to discuss," Young said. "There are times I put things on the agenda. I felt this needed to be on the agenda because of our discussions. My recommendation is not to appeal it. What's the benefit?"

Young said he thought the city would pay back the interfund loan in eight to 10 years through the impact fees.

Dennis Box can be reached at dbox@courierherald.com.

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