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October 25, 2013

Eminent domain case costs Modesto $300,000

Modesto will pay $120,000 to acquire land for a Roselle Avenue road-widening project. The case also cost the city $183,000 in legal fees.

Modesto has agreed to pay a Modesto woman $120,000 for a strip of her land fronting Roselle Avenue for a road-widening project.

The city had filed an eminent domain case in May 2011 against Kim Kuppens to acquire her property on the 3000 block of Roselle. A city uses eminent domain to acquire private property for a public good from an unwilling seller.

The case will cost Modesto more than $300,000.

City Attorney Susana Alcala Wood said Modesto has paid $182,277 in legal fees to an outside attorney to represent the city in the matter.

That cost has drawn the ire of Kuppens’ husband, Dan Nickles. He said he and his wife offered to settle the case for $100,000 about 18 months ago. “They could have settled this whole thing and saved all that money they spent on an outside attorney,” he said.

Wood said Nickles’ comments are “hogwash and not true.”

The city filed the lawsuit only against Kuppens because the property is in her name. Nickles said the city is taking a 300-foot-long, 6-foot-deep strip of land. He said it will be used for a sidewalk.

Nickles said he and Kuppens will use the settlement to pay their attorney, Kelly Smith of Sacramento, and for the cost of relocating their wall and gate along Roselle, along with two inner fences used to control their livestock and other animals.

The project entails widening Roselle from two to four lanes from Floyd to Sylvan avenues and constructing a roundabout at Kodiak Drive and Roselle.

Modesto senior civil engineer Vickey Dion said construction should start in the summer and take about a year to complete. She estimated the total project cost at $4 million.

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