Murray City Council sides with neighborhood, rejects road continuationAug 16, 2021 09:59AM ● By Shaun Delliskave
The Murray City Council declined to condemn private property to connect a planned subdivision. (Shaun Delliskave/City Journals)
By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]
Declining to use eminent domain, the Murray City Council, at their July 6 meeting, ended efforts by Murray City to connect Willow Grove Lane and Tripp Lane in a new subdivision. The rejected resolution, presented to the council by the Murray City Attorney’s office, was to acquire a 106-square-foot parcel owned by Jim and Wendy Livingston, who had rebuffed the city’s offers to purchase the property.
While the use of eminent domain is always controversial, the development project, in general, has been met with opposition by residents of the Willow Oak subdivision. Residents have registered complaints to the council over potential traffic issues between their neighborhood and the connection to Tripp Lane, where Riverview Junior High School and the Riverview Park baseball complex sit.
At the Sept. 15, 2020 Murray City Council meeting, nearby residents including Steve Fidel told the council, “In my 20 years living about 100 yards away from the proposed development, I believe connecting Willow Grove to Tripp Lane would do nothing to alleviate current traffic congestion around Riverview Junior High along Tripp Lane but would create a new safety hazard for pedestrians going to and from both Riverview and Viewmont Elementary.”
Initially, this came to the city when the developer, NeighborWorks, wanted to develop a 10-house subdivision in the area directly north of Willow Grove Lane. They had proposed a cul-de-sac; however, the city asked that they consider extending Willow Grove Lane to meet up with Tripp Lane.
The Livingstons reside adjacent to the proposed development property on Willow Grove Lane, which dead-ends at the border, and own a small parking strip that leads to a pedestrian accessway to the park. According to Murray City Attorney G.L. Christensen, the city told NeighborWorks that they would have to acquire this part of the Livingston’s property. The city offered $1,950, based on an independent appraisal, to the Livingstons to purchase the strip, but they declined the proposal.
Jim Livingston told the city council, “If you take a look at the original planning commission meeting on this on June 17, 2004…it clearly states in there that the stub road could remain a stub road because the property owner to the north may never sell. It was not a foregone conclusion that this would be a through street. It wasn’t developed to be a through street originally, and so the assumption that this was always planned to be a through street is absolutely inaccurate.”
It is not clear why the Livingston’s property was mapped out to include that strip of property except that it allowed the developer of the Willow Oaks subdivision to install fencing that uniformly bordered the whole project.
Also, Livingston said he received numerous comments from neighbors that boiled down into three concerns: traffic, safety and eminent domain. He said that he personally felt safety was the most significant issue of the three.
“Let me tell you what I see every day. I see walking down that street every day are a whole lot of students. I see their parents. I see families walking down that street, and why do they walk down that street and go through that walkway? Because it is a safe place to walk. There are alternative paths that they can take, and they choose not to take those paths because it’s safe for them to walk down that street, and I can’t imagine a through street and what that would do,” Livingston said.
As far as stub roads in Murray go, Critchfield explained to the council that the city typically considers connecting these roads into new developments.
“We do this in most developments where there is a stub road. The complicating factor is this small piece of ground that is privately owned that obviously, we can’t do anything about unless we condemn it. So that’s the reason for this condemnation action,” Critchfield said.
After reading the resolution, Council Chair Diane Turner asked if there was a motion on the resolution. All five city councilors present declined to offer one, and the resolution died. Critchfield said after the meeting that this effectively ends the city’s attempts to connect Tripp and Willow Grove Lanes.