Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Little More Background on the RRHA Dispute

There's an enlightening piece on the op-ed page of a Roanoke daily this a.m. (here) that gives a good bit of insight into the rationale behind the Roanoke Redevelopment and Housing Authority's decision to condemn property that sits near the center of the extensive medical facility development along Reserve Ave.. It has been such a hot-button issue for several years.

RRHA Chairman Daniel Karnes insists, essentially, that the organization did what it was pushed into doing and that it pursued condemnation ("an action that should be and has been used rarely by RRHA") as a last resort. He further stresses that RRHA is "mindful of the fact that funds provided by the city for acquisition of property in the redevelopment area are taxpayer dollars ... [which is why] RRHA cannot simply agree to pay a landowner's asking price, when that price far exceeds the appraised value of the property."

RRHA has made two different offers for the disputed property: $1.25 million in 2006 and $1.53 million in 2008, Karnes says, but those offers--on property that cost its owners $168,840 in 1999 and was developed)--were rejected. RRHA offered to reassess the property after the initial bid, says Karnes, but "the landowner refused to grant [the assessor] access to the property."

It is a complex situation involving good people with honorable intentions on both sides, but like so much in American life these days, it has devolved into a mud wrestling match where the facts are covered with a thick layer of brown sticky. Karnes says "media reports have been incomplete or inaccurate," which just about anybody following this would agree to be the case.

If you read Karnes' entire piece, you will also note that the word "Carilion" does not appear. If you find that strange, maybe you'd better read it again.

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