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Published: Wednesday, 5/9/2001

Elmwood schools sue to compel sale of land

BOWLING GREEN - The Elmwood school board went to court yesterday to force the sale of nearly 39 acres next to Elmwood High School where the board plans to build a pre-kindergarten through high school complex.

Elmwood officials say they have been unable to reach an agreement with the property owners, Henry and Sally Veryser of rural Bowling Green, and decided to proceed with the school district's right of eminent domain. Eminent domain is a process through which a court sets a sale price that a property owner must accept.

“The board passed a resolution in February to proceed with eminent domain so what we've done in between then and now is try to negotiate this outside of the court system, and we were unable to do that,” said Elmwood Superintendent Dave Rossman.

In the suit filed in Wood County Common Pleas Court, the school board requested that a jury determine the price and asked that the value of the property be fixed at $82,500.

Mrs. Veryser said that figure was not realistic. It works out to about $2,130 an acre. “She's not going to be sold for that,” Mrs. Veryser said. “They had offered us $3,500 an acre. My husband wanted $5,500 or $5,600 because farm ground around here is bringing $5,000.”

Mrs. Veryser said her husband, who farms with their oldest son for a living, worked hard to buy the land in 1986. She said the soil is deep black sand, making it some of the best farm ground in the county.

The couple spent about $25,000 last year to install drainage tile at the farm, which is at Jerry City and Bloomdale roads just west of Elmwood High School. Mrs. Veryser said the couple didn't know at the time that the school wanted to buy the land. “They just sprung it on us last fall,” she said.

In the summer of 2000, the southern Wood County school district was notified it was eligible for $27.4 million through the Ohio School Facilities Commission to build a new school that would put all grades under one roof. In November, voters approved the local share - a 3.2-mill bond issue and a 0.5-mill operating levy to maintain the new school.

Mr. Rossman said the delay in purchasing the land is not delaying the project. The timetable calls for getting construction bids in late winter and breaking ground in the spring of 2002. “It's probably not holding us up at all, and we have been able to get on the property to do some soil test borings,” he said. “We were allowed to do that.”

The case been assigned to Judge Charles Kurfess.

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