Pine Ave. Widening Project Runs into Problems: City Forced to Use Fifth Amendment Right to Eminent Domain

Photo Courtesy: City of Eastvale

By Izabella Salinas

Chino- The Pine Avenue Widening Project, Chino’s plan to expand Pine Avenue into six lanes, has hit an obstacle due to the City being unable to reach an agreement with the owners of the land needed for the expansion.  A resolution between the parties has not been easy, forcing the City to utilize “eminent domain.”

Eminent domain is the right provided by the Fifth Amendment in the constitution. It refers to the government’s ability to take private property for public use. However, they must provide the property owner with “just compensation,” which is determined by a property appraisal.

Lewis Operating Corporation plans to build 600 residential units, but their plan requires the dedication of certain land to the widening of Pine Avenue. This required land is part of the H&R Barthelemy Dairy Farm and has been in the Barthelemy family for over 70 years.  

Lewis Operating Corporation has been trying to obtain the land since last year but has been unable to reach an agreement with the family. Because of this, the City has voted to acquire the land by exercising their right of eminent domain.

“For the public purposes set forth herein, the City of Chino is authorized to acquire property through the exercise of eminent domain,” said the Chino City Hall Staff report.

The required easements for the project include a permanent easement of 110,766 square ft., slope easements, a drainage easement, a flooding easement, an access easement, and a temporary construction easement. An easement is the right to use another person’s land for a specified purpose.

“Pine Avenue needs to be widened to accommodate existing and future traffic due to development in the area,” said the Chino City Hall staff report.

The City of Chino states that the land owned by H&R Barthelemy Farms is necessary in order for their Pine Avenue Widening Project to move forward. The Project is deemed to be for the greater good of the public.

“The acquisition of the Easements is necessary for the Project because without them the Project cannot be constructed,” according to the staff report.

The Barthelemy family wishes to have their own appraisal of the property made and to be given a reasonable amount of time to do so.

“In order to engage in meaningful negotiation with the City, we wish to have the property independently appraised,” wrote Dan Barthelemy in a letter to the City.

In accordance to California eminent domain laws, the property owner does not have to accept the City’s offer and they are able to make a counter-offer.

No deal has yet been made.

Visit https://eminentdomain.uslegal.com/state-laws-on-eminent-domain/california/ to find more details about California eminent domain laws.

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