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Hampton plans to take some gas station land for park-and-ride lot

| Wednesday, March 5, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Hampton Township officials plan to use eminent domain if needed to acquire about half of the current gas station property at Route 8 and Duncan Avenue for a new park-and-ride lot.

The parking lot for commuters would be part of a $4 million package of flood mitigation and traffic improvement projects planned at the intersection, including new turning lanes on Duncan Avenue and Route 8.

“When we got grant money from the federal government to do the road work as part of the flood projects, the requirement was that we add this park-and-ride project,” said Hampton Council President Vic Son.

“I think that's a perfect use for that land,” Son said after council members voted 4-0 at their Feb. 26 meeting to authorize the condemnation of approximately 1 acre owned by Von Ulrich Inc., a property management company based in Tampa, Fla. Councilman Cary Montgomery was absent.

“In order to expedite things, we need to proceed,” Son said. “This is not taking property from anybody's business. It's a taking of land unfit for building.”

The vacant acre is in a flood plain beside the convenience store and gas station operated by 7-Eleven Inc. at Route 8 and Duncan Avenue. Because the land is in a flood plain, no buildings can be constructed on the site.

Hampton officials expect the property's location and flood-plain status to affect its appraised value.

“We had to describe the property to them before they could even remember where it was,” township Manager Chris Lochner said. A representative of Von Ulrich Inc. declined comment on whether the company would accept or reject any purchase offer for the land from Hampton officials.

Eminent domain refers to the government's ability to take property — compensating the owner — to use the property for the public's benefit.

Son said he expects construction of the new turning lanes on Duncan Avenue and Route 8 to begin this summer, with no anticipated closure of the busy intersection.

Local, state and federal dollars are paying for the flood-mitigation and traffic improvements at the intersection, which already include a new bridge over Gourdhead Run and adjacent flood basin at Route 8 and Duncan Avenue.

To accommodate the forthcoming turning lanes on Duncan Avenue, Hampton Council also voted 4-0 on Feb. 26 to acquire about 1,300 square feet in front of the Schoolhouse Salon on Duncan Avenue, property owned by Edward and Nancy Graswick, who couldn't be reached for comment.

“We're certainly hoping to come to an amicable arrangement with them,” Lochner said.

Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or ddeasy@tribweb.com.

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