The City of David City is working to obtain easements for its O Street reconstruction project after officials discovered the matter hadn’t been taken care of prior to the project starting.
An easement grants the right for one party to use or enter onto a property owned by another party. They are needed for work such as the O Street project, which encompasses repaving, storm water improvements and other work.
“It’s ideal that that happen before you start the project,” City Attorney David Levy said. “In this case, there was miscommunication internally between the city and its engineer and the city attorney at the time, and those things didn't get done essentially. Each party thought somebody else was handling it or somebody else had handled it.”
The paperwork had been drafted and the legal descriptions had been prepared but didn’t “make it to the finish line” of being negotiated with landowners and filed, he added.
People are also reading…
“They started building the project and it turned out the easements had not been finalized,” Levy said. “And so that's the process that the city has been undertaking now for the last month or so.”
On Nov. 30, the David City Council approved a contract with Midwest Right of Way Services, a land acquisition and relocation services firm out of Omaha.
According to the contract, Midwest Right of Way will acquire temporary and permanent easements from 30 property owners for the O Street project. The maximum total fee – as laid out in the contract – is $74,625, which breaks down to $4,500 for project management; $10,500 for appraisal report; $56,250 for acquisition negotiations; and $3,375 for document preparation and administrative fees.
Levy told The Banner-Press on March 8 that he didn’t know exactly when the city discovered the easements had not been finalized.
“As soon as it did come to light, there's really nothing else to do but to go get the easements; the project was under construction,” Levy said. “A lot of the work had been done and so the documents were largely prepared. The city engaged Midwest Right of Way then to reach out to the affected property owners and try and work with them to get signatures on the easements.”
He added that Midwest Right of Way had secured some easements already.
Work on the O Street project continued amid the acquisition of easements.
“The contractor has had to work around the lack of easements a little bit, and a few minor changes were made where possible to avoid needing the easement at all,” Levy said.
The city acknowledges that the easement acquisition process didn’t happen as it should have, he added.
“Unfortunately, those things do happen from time to time but, again, as soon as we learned of it being an issue, the city council set out and the mayor set out to remedy those things as soon as possible,” Levy said. “Most people along the project have been cooperative and I know the city appreciates that.”
Hannah Schrodt can be reached at email@example.com.