By Anna Kaplan
LATHROP – Lathrop is planning to use eminent domain to take over a 4,500-square-foot parcel of land along McKinley Avenue in order to build a sewer pumping station that would service future industrial development.
City officials approved a resolution of necessity at a meeting Tuesday night, saying the city needs the land and will use legal powers to get it if need be.
McKinley Avenue, located on the east side of town, is populated by industrial storage pods fenced off from prying eyes. If city leaders have their way, the area will one day become a thriving part of Lathrop’s industrial district.
But first, the city will have to get past Rafael Sandoval, who owns more than 30 acres along McKinley and says he’s not getting a fair price for the 4,500-square-foot chunk Lathrop wants to use.
City staff have been contacting Sandoval for about two years in an attempt to buy the parcel because the plans for the pumping station have been on the books since 2001.
They are pursuing eminent domain as a last resort, according to Assistant City Manager Cary Keaten.
“We were not getting any response, and it’s imperative that the project move forward. It’s going to bring sewer service to all the property owners on McKinley Avenue. It’s going to open up the whole area to commercial and industrial development,” Keaten said.
Sandoval, who owns Lathrop Woodworks on part of his 30 acres and leases out the rest, is happy with his septic tank and says that the city’s offer of $26,000, based on official appraisals, is not enough.
“I’m ticked off about this. Their price is not even worth it for me to talk to them. I want $10 a square foot, especially since the pump is going to devalue the rest of the property,” he said.
The pump station and an attached half-mile worth of sewer pipe will cost the city $2.9 million to construct.
“Property rights are very important to us, but at the same time, you have to meet the public needs. Eminent domain is the absolute last option,” Vice Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal said.