Langley to condemn fairground property

After several failed attempts, the city of Langley has ended negotiations with the Island County Fair Board about an easement over the fairgrounds.

Instead, city officials are taking legal steps to acquire the property needed to build a new road through condemnation and eminent domain proceedings.

During Wednesday’s regular meeting, the Langley City Council authorized Mayor Neil Colburn to begin the process to acquire a portion of the county’s fairgrounds property to build a connector road between Al Anderson and Langley roads.

The new Fairgrounds Road would stretch approximately one-quarter mile between Al Anderson Road and Langley Road, and about 400 feet of the road would cross fairgrounds property, said city administrator Walt Blackford.

City officials said the new road is a necessity to avoid traffic issues on Al Anderson Road once the proposed Highlands development is built.

Colburn said that he and two city staff members had met with the county commissioners earlier Wednesday and negotiations with the Fair Association Board are at in impasse.

No further negotiations will be undertaken with the fair board, he said.

Colburn also reported that under the conditions of the county’s relationship with the fair board, the commissioners can’t grant the city’s request for an easement without fair board approval, although two commissioners expressed their support for the city’s request, he said.

The mayor will now direct the city attorney to initiate the process to acquire the property through the city’s right of eminent domain.

Blackford told the city council that if all goes well, the issue could be resolved within the next 30 days.

Colburn said the city is acting in the interest of public health and safety to provide an alternative route for residents on Al Anderson Road.

“We have to have this road,” Colburn said.

“Our intention is to minimize the traffic impact from future development along Anderson Road, especially at the corner of Sixth and Anderson, while designing the new connector road in such a way that it does not become a ‘short-cut’ for vehicles traveling through Langley,” he said.

The mayor added that the new road will enhance the fairgrounds by improving access while preserving the tent camping area.

The proposed route of Fairgrounds Road will result in a new intersection on Langley Road in the vicinity of the current gated entrance near the RV park and campground, Blackford explained.

A left-turn lane will be added on Langley Road to make it safer for vehicles to access Fairgrounds Road and the new entrance to the fairgrounds property, and the speed limit will be reduced to 25 miles per hour beginning at Maxwelton Road, he said.

Negotiations started about 11 months ago.

The fairboard had since voted down the proposal and most recently tabled the issue until after the Island County Fair in August.

Construction for the Highlands development is not expected to start before the fair in August.

“Under any circumstances, construction on the road will not begin until after this year’s fair,” Blackford said.

The city council and neighbors on Al Anderson Road said the Highlands development, which will be the biggest development in Langley’s history, needs the new street to handle traffic during construction and beyond.

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