City Stalls on College Hill Project

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In an 8 to 1 vote, the council voted to postpone its decision on the College Hill Project.
It's a $22 million redevelopment project that could result in the city taking property from two business owners in the area.
More than a dozen protesters showed up before the meeting to send a message to the council.
"There is strong, organized support against eminent domain abuse in this city, make sure that you do not abuse the business owners and home owners in this city," says Thomas Lessman, of the Libertarians of Northeast Kansas who organized Monday's rally.
He's referring to two business owners in particular: the owners of Oscar's Bar and Jerry's Bike Shop.
"I'm real concerned that the power of government is being used for purposes it wasn't intended to be used for," says Jerry's Bike Shop Owner Jerry Morgan.
Project developers already acquired 38 properties in the area; they're waiting to strike deals with the remaining two.
"We at least need to get a judge to determine fair market value so we can move forward," says District 6 Councilman Clark Duffy.
Duffy hopes that will remedy the stalled progress, helping the developer and owners agree on a reasonable selling price.
However, some fear the city will just take what developers won't purchase.
"My biggest fear is if they do this to Jerry, they'll do this to anyone," Lessman says.
But Duffy disagrees.
"This project is not about eminent domain, it's about moving this community forward, and helping the city and the Washburn community and the city's core," says Duffy.
As for what's holding things up, developers need to reach financial agreements with the city and the business owners.
Officials expect agreements to be completed before next week's meeting.
Developer Henry McClure says he doesn't want to comment until that meeting.