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American Canyon starts condemnation proceedings for big road project
Public Works

American Canyon starts condemnation proceedings for big road project

Utility poles and commercial truck on Green Island Road (copy)

A commercial truck drives past utility poles on Green Island Road. The city of American Canyon is planning to place power and telecommunications lines underground as part of a larger widening and reconstruction project for the busy and crumbling roadway.

American Canyon is flexing its eminent domain muscles as it seeks to acquire several slivers of private property it deems necessary for the Green Island Road project in the industrial area.

The City Council on Tuesday voted to initiate eminent domain proceedings against four property owners. That means if the parties can’t negotiate deals, the city can take the land and the courts will decide the sale prices.

City officials said the step is necessary to keep the $14 million Green Island Road project on schedule. Negotiations for land acquisitions and temporary construction easements in these four cases have reached impasses.

“We all know the Green Island Road industrial area is vital to the economic success of American Canyon,” Mayor Leon Garcia said.

The industrial area with 60 businesses and more than 1,200 employees is served by a main road marred by rough patches. City officials said that, on a scale of 1 to 100 with 100 being best, Green Island Road has a pavement quality score of 12.

For context, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission considers any score below 24 as failure. Such a road has extremely rough pavement and needs complete reconstruction, not a mere patch job.

Delaying the Green Island Road project beyond this year could cost the city 130 jobs, Public Works Director Richard Kaufman said. Warehouse and distribution centers for several global companies in the industrial area have a lot of heavy truck traffic.

“If we cannot improve the condition of that road, they will go elsewhere,” Kaufman said.

To remedy the situation, the city this year is launching a drive to reconstruct 1.9 miles of Green Island Road, Jim Oswalt Way, Mezzetta Court, Hanna Drive and Commerce Boulevard. That includes a wider Green Island Road with a two-way center turn lane and underground utilities.

Tim Shea of FRG Waste Resources said he favors improving Green Island Road. But he expressed concern that a 1,298-square-foot temporary construction easement on his property will mean the loss of 10 coastal redwoods.

“This is permanent and there’s no plan for funding future landscaping or replacing those trees ... one of the reasons I purchased this property was because of those trees,” Shea told the City Council.

Both Shea and property owner Joy Ramos expressed concern how the Green Island Road project will affect their driveways.

Council members wanted to see if such issues can be worked out. But they also approved initiating the following eminent domain proceedings:

— Shea property at 100 Dodd Court for a 1,298-square-foot temporary construction easement. The city set aside $32,200 for the purchase.

— Ramos property at 860 Green Island Road for a 1,001-square-foot temporary construction easement. A city agenda posting said the city set aside $15,900 for the purchase, but Ramos said the offer changed to $5,900.

— Sharma property at 834 Green Island Road for a 523-square-foot acquisition, 699-square-foot public utilities easement and 4,703-square-foot temporary construction easement. The city set aside $38,825 for the purchase.

— Hanna property at 880 Hanna Drive for a 3,299-square-foot acquisition and 6,386-square-foot temporary construction easement. The city set aside $83,043 for the purchase.

California law allows cities to purchase property for public use, even if the owner isn’t willing to sell. Cities must pay fair market value. If the sides can’t reach an agreement, the courts will decide the price, with cities able to take possession of the property before the judgment, according to the California League of Cities.

You can reach Barry Eberling at 256-2253 or

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Napa County Reporter

Barry Eberling covers Napa County government, transportation, the environment and general assignments. He has worked for the Napa Valley Register since fall 2014 and previously worked 27 years for the Daily Republic of Fairfield.

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