Judge sides with city in trail land dispute

Lawndowners had fought condemnation

COLUMBIA, Mo. - The city of Columbia has prevailed in its effort to use eminent domain to obtain easements to build a trail.

The city sued in July to compel the owners of a tract of land near Hinkson Creek to sell easements that would be part of the city's Shepard to Rollins trail, a $2.8 million project the city council approved last February. The landowners, It's Our Wild Nature, sued the city to stop the acquisition.

The two sides presented their cases in court last month. The city argued the trail would benefit the public while It's Our Wild Nature said the trail would harm animal life in the area.



Circuit Judge Jeff Harris in an order handed down last week and officially recorded Wednesday said the law gives the city the right to use eminent domain to acquire the easements if negotiations with the landowner aren't fruitful.

"The question before the Court is not whether trails are superior to natural areas or natural areas are superior to trails," Harris wrote in his order condemning the land. Harris wrote that the city acted in good faith in the negotiations to acquire the land. 

Harris ordered the city and It's Our Wild Missouri to submit by Jan. 31 the names of suggested commissioners who will determine what the city should pay for the easements. 

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