Supervisors OK eminent domain action to acquire parcel of land north of town

By Bob Cuddy

 The tiny North County community of Creston will get a new fire station, thanks to an eminent domain action taken by the Board of Supervisors Tuesday.

Through a “resolution of intent,” supervisors gave the go-ahead to buy three acres of a 138-acre parcel, three-quarters of a mile southeast of the intersection of Highways 41 and 229.

The county will now begin eminent domain proceedings to buy the parcel for $190,000.

The owners, Roger and Cheryl Janakus, who live in Illinois, agreed to sell, but Hal Holzinger, who owns the note on the property, would not go along.

“Nobody likes to use eminent domain,” said chairman Jim Patterson.

But, he added, the fire station is in the public interest.

Eminent domain, enshrined in the U. S. Constitution, allows a government to take a property— with just compensation — when it is for the general good.

The current fire station is on one acre and cannot be expanded because the site is too small.

Supervisors also were reluctant to take agricultural land out of production.

Organic vegetables are grown on the land. But they said the need for fire protection justified the exception.

Cal Fire looked at a dozen sites in the area over the course of a year, according to Deputy Chief Pat Kershen.

All had one defect or another, from unwilling sellers to oil pipelines running through the property.

Kershen described the new site as the hub of a wheel, with spokes going outward to the areas firefighters would serve.

Several Creston locals spoke in favor of the proposal, which has “great support in the community,” according to area resident Judy Blankenship.

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