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August 1, 2013

State claim on Highway 80 land irks owners

Public comment on slope project leaves questions unanswered

(Continued)

DOT officials claim they have a deed to the strip of land, and have owned it for nearly 100 years, and would only have to compensate property owners for the loss of water access or improvements like docks and stairs.

Several officials at the meeting said they could not comment on whether the state had plans to take the rest of the properties, but several residents stated that they believed that was the case.

Several calls to DOT officials for clarification have not been returned.

“DOT announced that they own our lake front,” said James Sever of 6691 Highway 80. “They will take it and not pay us for it.”

Sever and several other property owners said that their deeds and title searches also show ownership of the disputed strip of land and that they have paid annual property taxes.

“Why would we have bought it without lake access,” he said. “It seems like it is just a forgone conclusion now. When they are done with it, the shore will be natural … and stripped clean (of houses).”

To build another type of retaining wall on the property would cost $625,000 according to a presentation made by project engineer Brian Doag. Building a stabilization embankment, or slope, instead would cost about $400,000.

Building the slope is the DOT’s preference, but it was not an opinion shared by neighbors of the project.

“We love our charming old property on the lake,” said Betty VanHeusen of 6693 Highway 80. “We didn’t buy it to get a hunk of dirt thrown next door.”

According to a DOT timeline, preliminary approval for the design will take place this fall. The final design will be completed by the end of the year. Construction will begin in the winter and end in the spring of 2015.

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