EMINENT DOMAIN: Alice’s Road Project’s Excess Land
Years after the city of West Des Moines acquired land for the Alice’s Road project, the excess is being sold back to the people who lost it.
In 2008 several acres of land was acquired through eminent domain for the project.
Now the land that won’t be used it can be sold back to the landowners, but current city policy isn’t making it easy.
The project has been in the works for years; build a new I-80 interchange to serve a growing Waukee and West Des Moines.
However, the growth came at a cost for Linda Robel.
“They took the 6 acres about 5 years ago and I`ve tried to get it back ever since,” says Robel.
West Des Moines used eminent domain to take 6.5 acres of her farm land to build the interchange.
Soil from the land became the foundation for the new interchange but the land itself is no longer needed.
“I don`t think I should even have to pay anything frankly because I’ve lost so much,” says Robel.
The city wants to sell the land and Robel will get the first opportunity to buy it. However, it will likely cost much more than the $24,000 an acre the city paid her.
“Under the city policy we sell it back for what we bought it for, but what we`re dealing with on 105th Street and Alice`s Road is since it`s a DOT project the DOT has a different process,” says West Des Moines Mayor Steve Gaer.
Because federal funding was used the land must be reappraised and since it now has interstate access the value has likely increased.
Monday night the city council voted to allow Robel to select the appraiser.
“I thought this was a fair compromise to have, when there is multiple parcels involved, to have the land owners come together and agree on one appraiser,” says City Council Member Russ Trimble.
No matter the appraised value, Robel says for her the land is essentially useless.
“I raised sod on it, I had a barn, two wells, fences and beautiful sod and that`s all gone because they took $900,000 worth of dirt off it,” says Robel.
The council says its hands are tied, and they wish the land could be returned for the same value.
Robel just wants her land returned in the same condition.
“All of that is gone now; all I have is a big deep hole,” says Robel.
Robel and one other land owner will have one month to agree on an appraiser.
After the appraisal is complete, the land owners will have 60 days to decide if they want to repurchase their land at the new reassessed value. If they decline, the city will put the land up for sale.