Eminent domain

View of Stephen Lorenzo’s property at McCann Road and Ruthlynn Drive. Through eminent domain action, the Longview City Council voted to pay Lorenzo just under $8,900 for 1,950.79 square feet of the property, citing traffic safety issues.

A Longview homeowner lost some of his property to the city, the drought contingency plan was updated and senior citizens’ needs were discussed when the Longview City Council met Thursday night.

The council approved an eminent domain purchase of property at McCann Road and Ruthlynn Drive, citing traffic safety issues.

Stephen Lorenzo, the property owner at 401 Ruthlynn Drive, said he has always been willing to work with the city to sell a portion of his property to increase visibility and safety at the corner.

“I am concerned about safety at that corner. I travel through that corner several times a day,” he said. “I have always been willing to relocate my fence on McCann Road after I put it up from the originally agreed to location, once we determined that there was a sight problem. The question has always been: where do we relocate the fence to?”

Lorenzo said he wants to have a meeting with City Council to relocate the fence to a place that saves his 100-year-old oak tree and shrubbery and does not disrupt his driveway.

“Right now, the way it’s proposed, once the fence is put up and the gate is put up, I’d have to back up about 200 feet all the way around the back of the house to the front,” he said. “I don’t really feel the current city proposal of $7,000 is adequate for the impact on my property.”

An April 17 letter sent to Lorenzo from the city showed an offer of $6,896.66 for 1,950.79 square feet of his property.

Rolin McPhee, the city’s director of public works, said that offer has been increased to just under $8,900.

Mayor Andy Mack asked McPhee if discussing a solution with Lorenzo before making a final decision was possible.

McPhee said he would not bring the issue before the council if he and the city engineer had not met with Lorenzo repeatedly on the issue.

“(Eminent domain) is the item that I do not like to bring to you because it basically says I failed to negotiate a successful resolution,” McPhee said.

District 4 Councilwoman Kristen Ishihara said eminent domain is a step the city rarely takes, but the council has to consider the safety of residents.

“I am very sympathetic to the issue; eminent domain is a big deal. If you are the homeowner, you are very sensitive to that,” she said. “But we also up here have to be sensitive, too. We’re talking about taxpayer money, taxpayer safety, everyone that’s on that road, that is a safety issue that needs to be addressed.”

The item passed unopposed.

Council members also heard a presentation from Parks and Recreation Director Scott Caron on the progress of a potential Senior Advisory Committee.

Earlier in the year, Longview Regional Medical Center closed Senior Circle, a recreational program for senior residents.

Now, Caron wants to create a committee to address the needs of those residents.

“What we’re looking at is being able to have communication between our residents and our staff and making sure that we’re addressing the needs of this community from a facility standpoint and a programming standpoint,” he said.

The committee would be formed through the Parks and Recreation department with a liaison, possibly from the City Council, and consist of seven members, Caron said.

Ishihara has been involved in the process.

“Our community has been really moving in the direction of a retirement-serving community,” she said. “We want to continue that ball rolling.”

Mack said applications will be created for potential committee members to fill out.

Caron said he would anticipate the committee starting in October.

In addition, the council approved a Water Conservation Plan and Drought Contingency Plan.

According to city documents, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality requires the plan to be reviewed and updated every five years. The last plan was adopted June 12, 2014.

McPhee said the update reflects the past five years of water use in the city.

The council also approved an amendment to the fiscal year 2018-19 sanitation budget for $182,181 for the chipping of debris from the May 8 storm with straight line winds that hit Longview.