County passes resolution to pursue condemnation of drag strip

The 48.5 acres property sits beside the Lake Cumberland Regional Industrial Complex

Attorney H.K. Cooper speaks to the fiscal court Monday about the drag strip property.

The Russell County Fiscal Court approved a resolution Monday morning to begin the process of condemning the property known as “The Drag Strip” between Jamestown and Russell Springs.

The property, totaling a little more than 48.5 acres, sits adjacent to the Lake Cumberland Regional Industrial Complex which is owned by the Russell County Industrial Development Authority.

The Drag Strip property also provides a corridor connecting French Valley Road and Airport Road, and the acquisition of the property is “necessary for the future development of the Lake Cumberland Regional Industrial Site for the benefit of the citizens of Russell County, Kentucky, and for the maintenance of environmental suitability for future development,” according to a resolution approved by RCIDA earlier this month.

The corridor between the two roads would become a public access road, according to the resolution.

The resolution passed by the fiscal court Monday claims that the requested condemnation of the property “is in the best interest of the people of Russell County, Kentucky, for the anticipated provision of job opportunities and further economic development of Russell County…”

According to RCIDA’s attorney H.K. Cooper, negotiations had been ongoing for a substantial amount of time between RCIDA and the property owners, even reaching a point of signing a contract regarding the sale of the property, but the negotiations stalled and the owners decided to change course. This led to the matter being brought before the fiscal court.

County Attorney Kevin Shearer said the county has the ability to condemn a property for public benefit and public use. Shearer said the next step is for the county to file the condemnation action in Russell County Circuit Court and from there, the McMahan estate (the owners of the property) would have 20 days to respond.

“They can contest whether or not we have the right to do this but they can’t contest the amounts,” Shearer said. “Three people within our community will be appointed by the court to assess the property. They’ll be property owners within our community and when that assessment is put in, the Industrial Development Authority will pay that into the court and then if the court finds that we have the right to do this, then we will be able to proceed.”

Of course, Shearer said, that aspect is secondary because the court would have to rule that the county has the right to move forward with condemnation proceedings.

Condemnation of property is not a common action taken by the fiscal court. County Judge-Executive Gary Robertson said he can remember only one other instance of it occurring.

Shearer reiterated that the RCIDA would pay for the property and although the county will be involved with the condemnation, the funds will not come out of the county budget.

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Zac Oakes is the News Director and Digital Content Contributor for LakerCountry.com and Laker Country WJRS 104.9 FM.