By Valerie Gibbons

Tulare County officials, who’ve placed eminent domain claims on three pieces of property as part of the widening of Road 80, may do the same for 19 additional parcels.

The Tulare County Board of Supervisors will vote Wednesday on whether to ask a court to allow the use of eminent domain. Hearings about the proposal will be held in a special meeting.

The requested prejudgment order would target road frontage just north of Visalia.

The 40- to 60-foot-wide strips, which are about a mile in length, belong to three landowners. County officials hope to force sale of the properties so they can widen the route from Visalia to Dinuba from two to four lanes.

The county argues that it has the power to force the sale under eminent domain because of public safety issues associated with Road 80.

The county has been trying to acquire the land since the beginning of 2008. Last month, the board heard emotional testimony from three landowners, whose last-ditch appeal of the eminent domain seizures was denied.

The property owners, all dairy families, contended that negotiation details — such as the relocation of fences and wells — had not been settled.

Eminent domain is the controversial power that allows cities, counties and redevelopment agencies to seize public property if there is an overriding public benefit. In California, a government agency using eminent domain must pay the market rate for the property.

Visalia Times-Delta: