Judicial center plan proceeds

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By Gayle Deaton

County officials say eminent domain proceedings could be complete as early as April in the acquisition of the property for the new judicial center.

Properties located in the downtown Shelbyville block between Fourth, Main and Washington streets for the building site as well as properties in the Second Street and Henry Clay area for parking have been the primary focus of the project's development board acquisition efforts since early last year.

The state Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) has already appropriated $18 million in funds for the project.

Some of the property owners refused offers to purchase their property which led to eminent domain proceeding on the part of the project development board. Deputy county Judge-Executive Rusty Newton said the legal process is now nearly complete.

Shelby Circuit Judge Charles Hickman is scheduled to make a ruling today on the commissioners' report which pertains to the price, Newton said.

If property owners still don't agree with the price or other terms, they will have 30 days to file an appeal. However, even if there is an appeal, the properties themselves will be ordered over to the Shelby County Public Properties Corporation as a result of the eminent domain proceedings, Newton explained to magistrates at Tuesday night's public properties meeting.

At that time, $1,090,000 will be paid to the Shelby County Circuit Clerk and deposited into an escrow account to be paid to each property owner involved at the time of the closing on their property.

Closings on these properties could occur as soon as mid-April, Newton said in his report, with demolition of the purchased properties beginning immediately thereafter.

The project development board is scheduled to meet March 19 to approve the final outer design of the new building, the report said.

Newton said officials are estimating that construction bids on the project could open sometime in June.