Rohnert Park may use eminent domain to widen road near casino

Rohnert Park may use its eminent domain powers to acquire parts of several properties needed to widen Wilfred Avenue to accommodate the huge Indian casino now under construction.

The city in September signed an agreement with the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria and the county of Sonoma under which the tribe is to pay the full cost of widening the street.

But officials say neither they nor the tribe have been able to reach agreements with five property owners to buy just under an acre of land still needed for the $10 million widening project from Redwood Drive to Stony Point Road.

Nearly all the route is outside city limits.

City staffers have asked the City Council to approve five resolutions declaring that it is in the public's interest for the city to forcibly acquire the land. The council is to consider the resolutions on Tuesday.

Under eminent domain proceedings a judge would determine the fair market value of the property and compel its sale.

"What we're proposing here is taking a very depleted road that has no improvements and we're looking at certain improvements that we believe greatly benefit the overall community," City Manager Gabe Gonzalez said.

But the owner of at least one of the properties in question, Amy's Kitchen Restaurant Holdings, said Friday that the company has signed a deal with the tribe to sell that portion of their land, 10,702 square feet, needed for the project.

"We reached an agreement with the tribe a while ago ... now it's just recording the easement," said Mark Levin, Amy's Kitchen's real estate broker and consultant.

The company, one of the nation's largest makers of natural frozen foods, plans to open a fast-food restaurant on the southwest corner of Wilfred Avenue and Redwood Drive.

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