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Condemnation proceedings OK'd by county

Yakima County officials say they've tried for the better part of a year to negotiate with a Lower Valley property owner on a right-of-way purchase to upgrade a portion of East Edison Road.

Now they're going to court.

County commissioners yesterday approved a resolution to pursue condemnation proceedings to obtain the two parcels.

Road Engineer Gary Ekstedt said the county wants to widen and rebuild the base of a nearly two-mile stretch of Edison from Bethany Road to the end of the street.

To do that the county needs to purchase a strip of land along the roadway for an expanded right of way.

Ekstedt said the county has reached agreements with all of the landowners in the area except for one who owns property just north of Edison in the vicinity of Harrison Road.

According to county assessor records, the property owner is Helen Leyendekker. She could not be reached for comment.

With a decision by county commissioners in hand, Ekstedt said the next step will be to go through the legal process of seeking the condemnation through the courts.

Ekstedt said the county has tried to offer fair market value for the property, but that the landowner wants more money. "We're offering a Ford and they're wanting a Lincoln," he observed.

If the court sides with Yakima County, then the next step will be for a jury to decide how much it should pay Leyendekker for the right-of-way-about a 10 to 15-foot wide strip according to Ekstedt-as well as to replace any fixtures that have to be moved.

Ekstedt says he's not sure how long the process will take, adding that there is still time to negotiate a compromise with Leyendekker.

"It's hard to say at this point," he said. "We had one case that last three years."

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