Government / Politics

Eminent domain causes bridge construction legal costs to balloon

County considers adding $240,000 to legal budget for eminent domain procedures related to bridge projects

The budget for legal services related to the planned Hospital Road and Union Road bridge projects may jump from $50,000 to nearly $300,000 because of anticipated costs of eminent domain, in which the county will have to pay landowners to purchase property for the projects. The San Benito County Board of Supervisors discussed the matter this week, but put off a decision on amending the contract with a legal firm until its Dec. 15 meeting.

The proposed amendment, adding $240,000 to the budget, covers the cost of anticipated legal services for both projects, primarily related to eminent domain actions that the county expect to file. There are two such cases related to the Hospital Road Bridge project. The legal services agreement would modify the current contract with the law firm of Meyers, Nave, Riback. Silver and Wilson.

Supervisor Anthony Botelho called the two projects and their legal entanglements "a huge mistake" and said the agenda item "kept me up all night long; I was so upset by this. This started out at $50,000, now they're adding another $240,000. Both bridges are costing way too much money."

Supervisor Jerry Muenzer suggested discussing the matter in closed session due to "possible litigation" and made the motion to continue the matter until the board's next meeting.

BenitoLink Staff