City will consider using eminent domain to make room for updated Newhall library

By Tammy Marashlian

 In quest of the final piece of property to build a new Newhall library, the Santa Clarita City Council will take up the possibility of eminent domain at Tuesday’s meeting.

Just Passing Thru, a piercing studio open since 1994, sits on the final parcel the city must obtain to build the much-demanded library.

Newhall’s currently library is woefully out of date. A new public library, expected to be 25,000 to 30,000 square feet, is a key part of the city’s plan to revitalize downtown Newhall.

The city plans to hold a public hearing and may request a resolution of necessity during Tuesday’s meeting.

“It sets the legal framework for initiating eminent domain,” said Paul Brotzman, Santa Clarita director of community development.

If eminent domain is approved, it would be the first time the city has used it for the Downtown Newhall Specific Plan, Brotzman said.

The council will also consider a request by city staff for the approval of up to $806,000 for the acquisition and for all related costs to execute the acquisition of 24509 Spruce Street, the site of Just Passing Thru.

Negotiations between the city and the owners of Just Passing Thru began in 2007 and have not been “fruitful,” Brotzman said.

Brotzman said the situation with Just Passing Thru revolves around making an agreement on the value of the property.

“It’s really an issue of the dollars,” he said.

The owner of Just Passing Thru was unavailable for comment on Friday.

The city has purchased all the remaining parcels for the future Newhall library.

Earlier this year, the City Council approved $1.2 million to purchase a 6,200-square-foot property at 24519 Spruce Street. The location is currently occupied by White Light Chiropractic.

The city already owns the parcels occupied by CarQuest Auto Parts and the Paws for Fun dog-grooming business.

During the purchases, the city has made an effort to be “highly flexible” with the property owners who occupy space where the Newhall library is planned, Brotzman said.

“We’ve really reached out to the property owners that have been involved,” he said.

In one situation, the tenant is allowed to stay in the building until the building must be physically removed for construction, he said.

An architecture firm is evaluating the site plans and conducting analyses before beginning any specific detail drawings for the new library, Brotzman said.

City officials believe that once built, the library will provide an anchor for one end of revitalized downtown Newhall.

The library is expected to draw clients from Newhall and surrounding areas, as well as attract a wide range of age groups.

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