County proceeds with eminent domain to purchase Community Safety and Justice Campus site
Friday, September 9, 2022
On July 29, 2022, Benton County offered a last and best offer of $5.477 million to purchase a 29.53-acre parcel of land for the new Community Safety and Justice Campus. The property owner has not agreed to the offer and, following the required 40-day waiting period, Benton County has filed for an eminent domain action in court. The last and best offer is designed to both allow the County to extend a fair and just offer of compensation and to assure the property owner that the County is prepared to pay fair market value for the property. The property is situated along Highway 20, approximately one mile north of downtown Corvallis, and zoned general industrial.
“Eminent domain is an extremely rare path for Benton County to choose and we don’t take it lightly,” shared County Counsel Vance Croney. “The County has negotiated in good faith, over a long period of time, with the property owner, but has been unsuccessful in reaching agreement, leaving it with no choice but to pursue acquisition through the court system.” Now that the County has filed for eminent domain in court, the County will not able to make further comment until the court case has concluded.
The property was selected by the Board of Commissioners in January 2022 after an 18-month, community-involved process that evaluated multiple options for siting new safety and justice facilities planned as part of the Justice System Improvement Program (JSIP). These proposed facilities include a new Courthouse, District Attorney’s Office, Sheriff’s Office, Emergency Operations Center, and a new Correctional Facility with increased capacity and areas for therapeutic services.
Following several efforts to negotiate a sales price with the property owner over a period of two years, on March 1, 2022, the Board adopted Resolution of Necessity R2022-001 allowing the Board to declare it necessary and in the best interest of the public to acquire the property for critical facilities. Based on that direction, the County began an eminent domain process prescribed by state statute that ensures fair-market compensation to the property owner.
Construction of the new Courthouse and District Attorney’s Office will be the first projects on the new campus. DLR Group has been hired as the project architects. The Courthouse will be funded with a 50% matching grant and the remaining costs for these two facilities will be funded using borrowed funds that will be secured and paid back through the County’s available General Fund Balance. The Board of Commissioners has maintained a commitment to the preservation of the historic courthouse, and a community-based committee is tasked with developing repurposing options for the Board’s consideration.
The remaining facilities proposed for the campus are subject to a voter-approved bond issue, currently planned for May 2023. Members of the public may sign up to receive updates and announcements related to the Justice System Improvement Program online at the following link: https://www.co.benton.or.us/justice/page/stay-informed.
Benton County is an Equal Opportunity-Affirmative Action employer and does not discriminate on the basis of disability in admission or access to our programs, services, activities, hiring and employment practices. This document is available in alternative formats and languages upon request. Please call Cory Grogan at 541-745-4468 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.