City: No eminent domain on Washington St. - East Valley Tribune: News

City: No eminent domain on Washington St.

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Posted: Monday, October 19, 2009 5:02 pm | Updated: 2:39 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Chandler residents whose homes stand in the way of plans to punch Washington Street through their low-income neighborhood will have a virtual veto over the project if they refuse to sell out, city officials say.

However, the city has received letters from almost all the affected residents, each indicating a desire to sell, said Sharon Joyce, city real estate manager.

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"They want the project," Joyce said.

Jim Phipps, a city spokesman, said officials have ruled out using eminent domain to confiscate and raze up to a dozen homes to extend Washington Street from its current terminus at Fairview Street south to Pecos Road, where a signalized intersection would be created.

"It's all going to be voluntary," he said. "It would only occur if property owners wanted to sell."

Extending the road would mean the city would have to buy up or otherwise acquire about a dozen occupied homes, some unoccupied property, portions of a local park, and part of the parking lot at the Salvation Army Chandler Corps Community Center, 85 E. Saragosa St., city officials have said.

If any of the residents decides to hold out, Chandler would put the plans on a shelf until the holdout changes his or her mind, or the property changes hands to someone more amenable, Phipps said. The extension doesn't have to be done right away, he said.

"That project really is one that's longer-term," Phipps said.

The City Council on Monday did not vote on approving the project's design plans but agreed to continue discussion until Nov. 19.

Last week, the city's Transportation Commission voted to recommend the designs, according to Joshua Plumb, the city's engineering project manager. The commission also recommended building a new park on the east side of the proposed extension.

The Washington Street project is part of a larger master plan, called the South Arizona Avenue Entry Corridor Study, to guide how the downtown area develops in the coming decades. The district targeted for redevelopment is bounded by Chandler Boulevard, Pecos Road, South Palm Lane and South Delaware Street. The effort involves redeveloping the existing corridor into a thriving neighborhood where residents will live above shops, restaurants and offices.

The Washington Street extension is aimed at making traffic conditions safer, establishing the eastern limits of the commercial area along Arizona Avenue, providing a buffer for the neighborhood between the commercial area and the residential area, and limiting "cut-through" traffic in the neighborhood by incorporating traffic calming, officials have said.

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