Broken Arrow moves ahead on acquiring land for road extension
BY ZACK STOYCOFF World Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
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BROKEN ARROW — The City Council voted Tuesday to begin condemning the final property standing in the way of a planned highway frontage road.
A portion of the 6.42-acre parcel owned by Tulsa billboard developer Shawn Whistler is needed to connect noncontiguous sections of Hillside Drive, the road serving the Bass Pro Shops development on the north side of the Broken Arrow Expressway, city officials said.
The city acquired construction rights on the other property needed for the road — an adjacent parcel owned by Bass Pro Shops developer Roland Investments Ltd. — last month.
City Attorney Beth Anne Wilkening said Whistler has shown interest in a recent $350,000 buyout offer from the city but has not yet accepted it. Officials will remain in contact with him in case he does, she told the City Council.
In a written report to councilors, she estimated that condemning the property could cost $400,000 plus legal fees — nearly double a recent $209,700 appraisal on the land, according to the report.
“It is the intention of (city) staff to continue to work cooperatively with (Whistler) through this process,” Wilkening said. “We will probably give him another opportunity … for resolution.”
The city is looking to finish acquiring land for a 1,200-foot leg of Hillside Drive east of Bass Pro Shops between Elm Place and Lynn Lane Road.
That would open about 27 acres to development and connect the road to its heavily-developed eastern leg east of Lynn Lane, forming a nearly two-mile contiguous shopping corridor fronting the highway’s north side.
Officials tout the project’s safety benefits, saying it will allow emergency responders better access to the Bass Pro Shops development.
Whistler told the Tulsa World in October that he has been negotiating off and on with the city since 2004. He could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.
Wilkening said Whistler has told the city that he fears that his land will lose value if a road is built through it because there would be less land to develop.
Whistler also has expressed fears that the city would seek to remove the two billboards that are on the property, she said. Those billboards would be allowed to remain if condemnation is successful, she said.
Tuesday’s vote allows the city to file a condemnation case in district court — the first step in what could be a long process.
A similar case against Roland Investments was settled last month after a two-year court battle.
The city agreed to pay $1.7 million for Bass Pro Drive — which runs through the Bass Pro Shops parking lot — and the developer agreed to donate two vacant lots for parking lots along with the strip of land for Hillside Drive on its nearby property.
A completed portion of Hillside Drive between Elm Place and Lynn Lane Road in Broken Arrow is seen from the north last fall. The road ends just east of Charleston's restaurant, which is seen at left. Los Cabos Mexican Grill and Bass Pro Shops are seen in the center. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World file