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Lilburn council may use eminent domain for trail

LILBURN - The city of Lilburn may soon be claiming eminent domain to complete the Camp Creek Greenway trail after the City Council approved a declaration of taking resolution Monday.

The city has been in negotiations for the last six months to purchase rights-of-way and easements through nine properties, but have been unable to reach agreements with the owners. Monday's resolution is the first step in condemnation proceedings for the nine properties.

"This is not something we want to do," Mayor Jack Bolton said. "This will allow us to use this tool if we have to, but we are still hoping to come to an agreement with the property owners."

The council hired a state-certified appraiser to value the property and has made offers based on those appraisals. Recent counteroffers from property owners are still far from what the city is prepared to pay, in some cases double.

"I believe I am being reasonable," property owner Jeff Krueger to the council. "Your representatives are not. The appraiser valued just the strip of property you want to take without consideration of what else is on the property. This trail will pass within 2-feet of the back of my building."

Council member Ken Swaim voted against the declaration of taking.

"I am against condemnation, but I am for the walking trail," Swaim said. "I know it seems like a contradiction, but it isn't. I just don't like eminent domain."

The council began working on the greenway in 2004. The planed 4-mile trail will travel along Camp Creek beginning at Rockbridge Road and traveling through the city and Lilburn City Park and end at Arcado Road. The first section will be from Lions Club Park to Lilburn City Park and is expected to cost approximately $1.4 million to complete.

Council approves resolution to fight overcrowding

The council also approved a resolution requesting changes in state law to help fight overcrowding.

The resolution requests that local governments be permitted to register residential rental property, current state law prohibits rental registration.

"(Rental registration) will provide for better tools to eliminate overcrowding issues," Neighborhood Improvement Manager Howard Brown said.

In April, the council passed the "Eight is Enough" ordinance limiting the number of people in a dwelling to eight. The ordinance also provides minimum square-footage requirements per person living in the dwelling. If Monday's request for rental registration is approved, local governments could instate residential rental inspections to verify the number of occupants in a home.

"There are a lot of hurdles facing us with overcrowding," council member Eddie Price said. "This would really help us get over a lot of them."

In other business:

•The council approved the donation of a "Blue Star Marker" from the Lilburn Garden club. The marker will pay tribute to the members of the armed forces.

•The council approved a new coordinated sign program for the Lilburn Square Shopping Center. The owners will remove the current signs and replace them with signs in line with the city's sign program

•The council approved a special use permit to allow a new Kauffman Tire to be located next to the Home Depot on Luxomni Road.