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FARMINGTON -- The city of Farmington has purchased the house at 11155 Rosebay Lane in Meadow Sweet subdivision and is ready to move forward with a drainage improvement plan to help prevent flooding on the street, according to Mayor Ernie Penn.

The city closed on the purchase Aug. 31 and paid a total of $275,931 for the house: $275,000 for the purchase price and $931 in closing fees. Farmington City Council on July 13 authorized the mayor to enter into a contract to purchase the house.

Penn said the city has contracted with Leming & Son Excavation in Lincoln to tear down the house for $8,500. Leming submitted the lowest of three bids for the work. Demolition will be in mid-October.

The city has discussed ways to improve drainage in that area for many years.

City engineer Chris Brackett with Olsson Inc. has said in meetings that the culverts under Garland McKee Road are undersized and not able to handle storm water runoff coming down the mountain during major rain events.

During these events, water crosses over the road and flows down Rosebay Lane, flooding many houses along one side of the street.

Under the latest plan, the purchased house will be removed so that storm water coming down the mountain off Garland McKee can be routed across this lot to a creek that flows behind the houses on Rosebay. This creek eventually makes it to the Illinois River.

As part of the project, the city on Sept. 1 filed a civil complaint in Washington County Circuit Court against Ethel McKee as trustee of the Ethel McKee Trust requesting the condemnation of about a half acre of land and asking the court to give the city immediate possession of the land for the drainage improvement project.

The city requested .57 acres for a permanent easement along the north bank of the creek and .37 acres for a temporary easement and offered $6,400 for the land based on an appraisal by Reed & Associates on Feb. 24, 2020.

According to the complaint, "The city of Farmington has determined that it is in the public interest to perform this work for the citizens of Farmington and to complete the installation, the city needs a portion of the defendant's property."

Penn last week said city officials approached McKee's representatives about purchasing the land for an easement but they were not interested so the city decided to start condemnation proceedings.

Several years ago, the city offered $40,000 for one acre for an easement and McKee's sons turned down this offer.

"They had an opportunity to go with the first deal we had and they would have gotten a whole lot more money," Penn said.

Circuit Judge Doug Martin signed an order Sept. 2 giving the city possession of the land for the project and signed an order Sept. 9 for the $6,400 in compensation to be distributed to the defendant.

McKee, through her attorney Jason Wales of Fayetteville, filed an answer Sept. 8 that says "just compensation for the taking of her property is substantially higher than $6,400." She requests a jury trial on the issue of just compensation and asked for compensation for severance damages, her costs, appraisal fees and attorney fees and other costs.

Penn did not have an estimated cost for the drainage improvement project but the city's goal is to keep total costs under $400,000, including the cost of the house.

"What we're going to do is very minimal to direct the water from going across the road and down Rosebay," Penn said. "We're going to get something done for them and hopefully, it will work."

Penn said the project will not change the amount of storm water that flows to the creek behind the houses.

"It just won't go down the street first," Penn said.

Brackett on Friday said a date to advertise for construction bids has not been set but most likely will be from mid-November to mid-December.

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