Stadium Land Fight Goes to Court
As Major League Baseball continues to deliberate over whether to accept the D.C. Council's baseball stadium spending cap, another player will enter the stadium game today at 9:30 a.m. That's when D.C. Superior Court Judge Joan Zeldon will conduct the first hearing on the fight over land for the stadium project.
As you might recall, the District government is using eminent domain to take possession of about 17 plots that are privately held near South Capitol Street SE and the Navy Yard. Most of the land owners are fighting the city in court. Although city lawyers in October seized the titles to the properties, Zeldon has yet to rule on the District's motion last month asking her for the right to remove the property owners and take full possession of the land. The city asked for that legal authority to be granted Feb. 7.
Today, lawyers for the city and the land owners will appear before Zeldon. Also, Zeldon requested that a representative of DC CFO Natwar M. Gandhi discuss whether the city is ready to issue construction bonds for the project. Gandhi has said he will issue bonds only after MLB endorses the council's spending cap, which would give final approval to the lease agreement. Under the council's legislation, MLB has until March 6 to make a decision about the spending cap and stadium lease.
Whether Zeldon will rule on the case before MLB makes its position known is unclear. Most land-use experts say the city is likely to prevail in its attempt to take possession of the land. The city needs access to the land as soon as possible because the stadium is supposed to open by March 2008--a tight timeline under any circumstances.
UPDATE at 1:15 p.m -- Judge Zeldon has made her statement in the case.
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Posted by: Douglas Willinger | February 24, 2006 07:45 PM
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