OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — The Overland Park city council is discussing eminent domain and how it could factor into a road expansion project, part of which wouldn't happen for another 22 years.
"It's progress. People feel they moved to the country for a reason and, here they come, progress," said homeowner Pat Ward, who lives at 159th and Quivira.
Many will say there will be no more country with how fast south Johnson County is developing.
“There’s subdivisions all up and down this way. Everywhere there is vacant farmland. It’s happening,” Ward said.
City Engineer Burt Morey said after they assessed the 50 miles of unimproved roadway in Overland Park, Quivira Road from 159th to 179th needed the most attention.
“It’s not responsible for us to leave that road in the condition it is now when we’re able to make an improvement to accommodate the additional traffic that we anticipate,” said Morey.
That's why the city is going to stretch the corridor into two lanes, then eventually four, with a median, updated drainage, traffic lights and sidewalks.
The four-lane portion wouldn't happen until 2040.
About 40 property owners would have to sell parts of their land.
“We’ve come to an agreement on about half of them and so we’re going to continue to renegotiate with the other half as long as we possibly can,” Morey said.
If they can't come to an agreement, the city would use eminent domain, meaning they can condemn the land and seize it. Some residents take issue with that.
Scott Hamblin lives along the stretch of road and would have to give up 1.4 acres, or roughly 60,000 square feet. He says the city is offering him $1 per square foot, plus $50 per tree. He says that’s not even near a fair deal when an acre down the street went on the market for $450,000.
Morey says eminent domain is the last resort, but that this project is absolutely going to happen.
“We'll probably have to make a decision early in the spring as to whether we’re going to use condemnation or not,” Morey said.
Ward’s house has already been affected. They sold part of their front yard, plus 70 feet on the side of the house. The city built a raised concrete driveway to make way for the extra lanes and a median.
“They’re going to extend the median so we won’t be able to get out down here other than right hand only, so that bothers me,” Ward said.
But she added, “That’s life.”
Ward said with all the students at the newish Blue Valley Southeast High School, the area needs safer roads.