By Julissa McKinnon

The city of Perris is preparing to forcibly take three properties in north Perris in order to widen Indian Avenue between Ramona Expressway and Harley Knox Boulevard.

Officials say the widening of the three-mile stretch of road would ease the flow of large trucks driving in and out of the new 1.3-million-square-foot Hanes distribution center and future commercial and industrial developments slated for the area.

The plan is to broaden Indian Avenue from one lane in each direction to two lanes in each direction with a landscaped median, said City Engineer Habib Motlagh.

“Ultimately the goal is to keep trucks removed from the ordinary vehicle traffic in the city while giving them freeway access,” via the Harley Knox onramp to the I-215, said City Attorney Eric Dunn.

To do so the city needs to acquire property from 16 landowners. So far it has bought 10 parcels and will soon finalize a settlement with the Eastern Municipal Water District for a parcel, Dunn said.

Of the remaining landowners, the city is close to negotiating a sale with two, according to Sunny Soltani, who briefed the City Council on Tuesday.

A cousin of the property owner furthest from striking a deal with the city asked the city council to hold off on starting the eminent domain process.

“It doesn’t seem a real attempt has been made to bridge the gap between our demand to the city and the city’s offer,” Cindy Tseng said.

Mayor Daryl Busch told Tseng the council is not condemning any properties yet. He said the council was simply taking the first step in a condemnation process, in case negotiations to buy the land fail.

Dunn said construction will not begin until all the properties are purchased.

“Timewise, we need to keep things moving along,” he said.

The last time the city purchased properties by force was October, when a court granted Perris the possession of two parcels along Morgan Street. The total 22-acre acquisition allowed the city to finish road and storm drain upgrades around the crossing of Ramona Expressway and Redlands Avenue, which accommodate traffic generated by the new IDS/Whirlpool distribution warehouse.

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