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Rohnert Park authorizes use of eminent domain for casino road widening

Rohnert Park on Tuesday asserted its power of eminent domain, finding it is in the public's interest to condemn and purchase parts of several properties on Wilfred Avenue, which is being widened to accommodate the Indian casino under construction just outside the city.

The affected properties together equal just under an acre of land, most of it outside the city limits. A judge must now determine their respective values. Property owners who have so far rejected the city and tribe's offers as inadequate can also submit their own land appraisals.

Chris Christoforidis, whose parents own a 3-acre parcel at Wilfred and Langner avenues, said the problem was about more than the $12,900 the city and tribe had offered for the 12,209 square feet it needs for an easement. The city has proceeded without regard for his parents' wishes, he said.

Rohnert Park Casino Construction

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"The money is not the point, it's the communication, it's the eminent domain," he said outside the City Council chambers.

He said to the council: "In the future, when the land will be able to be developed, what are we going to be faced with, what are we going to be left with?"

He was the only property owner to address the council Tuesday night.

The city and Sonoma County in September signed an agreement with the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria that the tribe will bear the full $10 million cost of the road project, an improvement that the federal government required as part of its approval of the Graton Resort & Casino.

But in making the case to the council that eminent domain was the proper course, Assistant City Manager Darrin Jenkins distanced the action from the $800 million casino project, one of the most divisive developments in North Bay history.

The widening of Wilfred Avenue, Jenkins said, was outlined in the city's general plan, adopted in 2000, "long before any discussion of casinos came to Rohnert Park."

"This is the community's vision for growth in the city," he said.


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