By Valerie Gibbons
Another road project has the Tulare County Board of Supervisors flirting with declaring eminent domain for a number of parcels.
Stimulus-funded construction along Road 108, or Demaree Street, between Visalia and Tulare prompted the board Tuesday to ask the court to start the eminent-domain process on four parcels for a thin strip of right of way for the widening project.
This is the second set of eminent domain lawsuits that the county has filed in the past two months. In September officials began the process to seize 14 parcels along Road 80 between Visalia and Dinuba.
The board also voted Tuesday to declare eminent domain on an additional three parcels along Road 80 — all owned by the same property owner. With the Road 108 project now moving to the eminent-domain stage, the total number of lawsuits filed by the county is up to 21.
At this week’s meeting, Road 80 property owner Ronald Vanderham said he tried repeatedly to nail down the details of the sale with the county.
“The loss of this land is going to affect my operation and permit status,” he said. “A lot of time has been wasted by cloudy answers and unanswered questions.”
The two projects are encountering the same problem.
In both cases, the widening projects will be affecting farmers who say the county isn’t offering enough money to stem losses from lost product, moving fences or taking out equipment.
Along Road 108, orchard owner James Rogers said the county’s consultant would not pay for the trees affected by the construction or their removal.
“They said my walnut and plum trees had no value and that I needed to take them out at my own expense,” he said. “I’m not looking for a job. This is going to make it difficult for me to farm.”
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