The Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) is planning to widen U.S. Highway 50 in Silver Springs, causing some property owners to express concern because the project runs through private property.
“As part of continuing widening and traffic safety improvements, NDOT plans to widen and enhance approximately 10 miles of U.S. 50 between Roys Road and the junction of U.S. 50/U.S. 95A in Silver Springs,” said NDOT Public Information Officer Meg Ragonese. “These roadway improvements will enhance safety for drivers, not only by providing a separated highway, but also with the addition of protected turning lanes, highway frontage roads for safer access and 10-foot roadway shoulders. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2018.”
Property owners have expressed concern because NDOT intends to purchase their land, which is next to the road.
“To lessen the impact on property owners and residents, we only want to acquire the minimal amount of land needed for the project,” Ragonese added. “We have thoroughly evaluated the exact property needed to ensure that we are equitably and only acquiring right-of-way specifically required for the roadway widening and improvements.”
That statement didn’t sit well with property owner Brett Nashlund, who contacted ThisisReno after seeing reporting on Dario Passalipi’s property that NDOT tried to purchase for less than half of the original amount that Passalapi purchased the property.
Passalapi is in negotiations with NDOT to settle at higher amount after the state board of transportation, lead by Governor Brian Sandoval, voted to take Passalapi’s property through the government’s power of eminent domain.
“I have an engineering drawing from NDOT showing 70 percent of my property being taken,” Nashlund said. “(I) received letter about 90 days after I listed it on MLS in January.”
Nashlund said he is concerned that NDOT will not play fair.
“They have recently begun notifying property owners along the entire corridor that they are in the way of progress, and will be exercising ‘Eminent Domain’ rights to take the property for their widening project,” he added. “Because of the unusually low initial offers made to several property owners along the USA Parkway route, they should prepare themselves by getting their own appraisals, be aware of their rights and current/future values of the property.”
Clarification (8/13/2016): It’s important to note that eminent domain is used by the state as a last resort, and NDOT said it has not moved in that direction, according to Ragonese.
She insisted that the state intends to be fair to property owners.
“It’s important for all landowners to know that we follow a very thorough, multi-step process to ensure that any property we must purchase is purchased at a fair price,” she said.
Passalapi, in his dealings with NDOT, said he was not treated fairly.
“We had lowered our demand … in the interest of resolving the matter amicably and avoiding any further litigation or issues,” Passalapi said. “We’re trying to be reasonable.”
The state instead invoked its eminent domain powers in order to expedite the USA Parkway extension project, which caused transportation board member Ron Knecht to register a complaint before he voted against the condemnation of Passalapi’s property.
“I am going to…register my displeasure with the failure of NDOT to be as responsive and as forthcoming and as timely as they could’ve been with regard to the property owners by casting a ‘no’ vote on this,” he said.
Ragonese said that the state pays cash to private property owners.
She added that “NDOT employees are homeowners and renters as well. We understand the pride and importance that we all take in the place we live. We take pride in making sure that any properties we need to acquire are purchased at a fair price to protect both the property owner and the taxpayers of Nevada.”