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Tuesday, March 27th, 2007

St. Henry not to seek legal action

By William Kincaid
ST. HENRY - The village will not have to proceed with an eminent domain court ruling, as four pairs of holdout homeowners have agreed to sidewalks in their neighborhood.
During the village council meeting Monday night, Village Solicitor Michael Gilb said all four pairs of homeowners in the Osterholt/Eastview subdivision have signed an easement agreement with the village. This allows the village to take a portion of their property to install sidewalks in the subdivision along Sunset Avenue and Eastview Drive.
After a series of meetings and follow-up phone calls, Gilb said the situation was taken care of with the owners, which included Mayor Lavern Schulze and his wife Diana, Vernon and Mary Lange, William and Joanne Niekamp and James and Trina Schwieterman. These homeowners have objected to the sidewalk installation since it was first brought up by council three years ago, saying sidewalks were not needed in their dead-end neighborhood and would only destroy landscaping.
Village Administrator Don Hess said construction of the sidewalks will be completed this summer.
At a meeting in February, council members read over a letter from Gilb, which asked for the cooperation of homeowners in obtaining the sidewalk easement. The letter stated that the village would more forward with eminent domain proceedings if an agreement was not reached by March 21.
No one attended Monday's village council meeting. More than 20 Osterholt residents attended the first sidewalk meeting in May 2004, saying there was no need for sidewalks. They cited loss of property value as their 20 years of landscaping would be torn out.
Late in 2005, council members approved a motion to move ahead with creating an easement and paying 11 homeowners a total of $10,972 for the acquisition of their land for sidewalks. The nearly $11,000 price was based on land appraisals performed by John Hall of St. Marys.
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