NMDOT Exercising Eminent Domain Over Knights of Columbus Property Paving Way For Roundabout

Land at the Knights of Columbus Hall parking lot is among parcels being taken by NMDOT through eminent domain for the proposed highway roundabout project at Trinity Drive and DP Road. Photo by Maire O’Neill/ladailypost.com


Los Alamos Daily Post

A hearing on an eminent domain case involving the New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) and the Columbian Club of Los Alamos slated for Friday in District Court in Los Alamos has been was canceled. Judge Sarah Singleton’s office said attorneys for the two parties have reached an agreement, however, Eliud Vigil, registered agent for the Columbian Club, which owns the Knights of Columbus property at the junction of Trinity Drive and DP Road, said that is not the case.  

NMDOT was granted a preliminary order of entry for two parcels belonging to the Columbian Club to be used as part of improvements to NM 502 including a roundabout, which is projected to be completed in 2018. One of the construction maintenance easement parcels is 2,480 square feet and the other is 3,432 square feet. NMDOT also is asking for a temporary construction permit for almost 9,000 square feet in the parking lot. The Columbian Club was offered $11,300 and $15,500 for the two construction maintenance easement parcels, and $4,500 for the temporary construction permit.

The Columbian Club maintains that the offer of just compensation is less than the County’s appraisal of the land on which it pays taxes. It also maintains that NMDOT is attempting to take more of the Club’s land than is needed for the highway improvement project. NMDOT’s appraised value allegedly discounted the value of the property because it is in a hole. The department maintains the preliminary order of entry should be made permanent and the issue settled at a later date.

NMDOT states that the descriptions of the parcels contained in the petition accurately describe the property needed for the project. The department feels the Columbian Club’s objection should be denied because it would need judicial review of the manner in which a project should be built. NMDOT maintains that granting a license to enter the Columbian Club’s remaining property would not constitute a taking of it. They say the NMDOT or its contractor would enter the remaining property only to remove or protect any site improvements within the two parcels.

The Columbian Club also is seeking just compensation for loss of revenue and operations of business due to the taking of additional land not previously negotiated. The Club maintains their property is at the entrance to Los Alamos with high visibility, easy access, and is a prime commercial site, that the lot is flat and is not in a hole. The Club is asking for $68,343 in compensation for the property.

A spokesman for Special Assistant Attorney General Kenneth B. Baca’s Office said Monday that an order on a procedural matter is being drafted and must be approved by all counsel before it is submitted to the court. Once it is signed by the Judge and filed with the Court Clerk it will be public record, the spokesman said.


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