Board looks to buy second property

By Nancy Gutierrez

At a special work/study session of the Exeter Union School District the board discussed the expansion of facilities at Lincoln School and the possibility of buying more property adjacent to the school.

The board purchased a lot on the southeast corner of D and Clarence streets in November 2002.

Superintendent Renee Whitson said first the district should contact the school facilities planning commission. If a district is looking to purchase a property for the expansion of a school facility, the property must be inspected and approved for expansion by the planning commission.

The second lot is located on the corner of Clarence street and Kaweah avenue. Board President Dean Sutton said he would like to make the owners an offer before seizing the property. Under education code 35270.5 districts are authorized to acquire by eminent domain any property necessary to carry out any of the powers or functions of the district.

Eminent domain is the right inherent in the people or government to take property for public use. The legislature has specifically granted this power to school districts.

Sutton said it would be proper for the board to first make an offer. Also, government code says a series of mandatory requirements must be met before actual eminent domain proceedings can be initiated.

These requirements include making every reasonable effort to acquire real property expeditiously by negotiation and agreement rather than litigation; The property must be appraised and the owner has an opportunity to accompany the appraiser; the public entity must also establish an amount which it believes to be just compensation.

The offer on the property can not be less than the public entity's approved appraisal of the fair market value of the property.

Board member Mark Hellwig said he would not want to move forward on the project until the board knew if Clarence Street could be closed.

"I strongly recommend we go full bore on this," Board member Mickey Hirni said.

Sutton suggested the board gather information on acquiring the project and then figure out pricing. There is no offer or agreement to sell the property. The item will be placed on an upcoming agenda for further discussion.

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