Carlisle Borough Council has taken the first step toward acquiring portions of two properties along North Hanover Street via eminent domain, but officials insist the step has been taken only to give the borough an option if negotiations with the land owners fail.
In a statement read into the record prior to a vote Thursday night, Mayor Tim Scott said the decision to pursue eminent domain does not mean that the borough will stop negotiations with the property owners. Rather, it is giving the borough a “plan B” if the negotiations come to an impasse.
He also said the property owners would be “compensated fair market value for the portion of property being taken using independent appraisals and legal oversight” if negotiations fail.
The ordinance, passed Thursday night by the council, will allow the borough to take portions of 320 N. Hanover St., which is the location of Cornerstone Credit Union, and 328-330 N. Hanover St., the location of a restaurant and gas station, for improvements that include the installation of a roundabout at the five-point intersection of North Hanover and Penn streets with Fairground Avenue.
Scott said the decision to install a roundabout was made by the borough along with project engineers and PennDOT as a result of the proposed development at the former IAC/Masland site.
“The roundabout is not a result of the road diet,” he said.
Scott said the road improvements also include the installation of a traffic light at a realigned intersection of Spring Road and North Hanover Street that will prevent drivers from being trapped on the railroad tracks. To make that happen, North Hanover Street needs to be widened slightly, necessitating the easements and rights-of-way.
Director of Public Works Mark Malarich explained what area of each property would be taken if the borough proceeds with taking it through eminent domain. Diagrams showed the rights-of-way and easements on both properties. On the property where the bank is located, .09 acres of the .27 acre property are needed for a street right-of-way and another .01 acre is needed for an access easement.
Noting that the scales are different on each of the drawings, Malarich then showed the schematic for the other property from which a required street right-of-way of .02 acres and a .1 acre access easement would be needed from a 1.01-acre property. A .03 acre slope easement would also be needed temporarily during the construction.
Neither business would be closed by the rights-of-way, although it may change access to the businesses or the availability of parking, according to borough officials.
“We look at eminent domain as a last resort. We are hoping that it does not come to that, but, like the mayor said, this gives us a plan B,” council member Robin Guido said. “As distasteful as it may be, it gives us a second option should option A fall apart or not come to fruition.”
The borough has already reached agreements with 11 of 14 property owners affected by the project, and an agreement with another, Norfolk Southern, is in its final stages.