Lawmakers slipped a measure into the state transportation budget that bans municipalities from condemning land — also known as eminent domain — for sidewalks, bike paths and recreational trails.
Mayor Soglin is not happy.
“This is nothing short of ridiculous or cruel, for that matter,” Soglin says.
He says the city has always been able to use condemnation for projects like this and uses the process several times a year. The city purchases that land when it deems it necessary for a public project.
Not having that power would mean a single homeowner could prevent projects the rest of the neighborhood favors.
Soglin points to a handful of roads that will require widening in the near future. With this measure in place, those roads could widen, but it wouldn’t leave room for gutters or sidewalks.
That poses serious public safety and environmental concerns, Soglin says.
One of those projects is the aging length of Buckeye Road coming into Madison, from Highway 51 to Monona Drive.
“The time is going to come when we have to rebuild this road,” Soglin says. “We may have to do some condemnation, and we are not going to get the ability to put in sidewalks.”
Soglin says the city’s filing an open records request to find out what groups are behind the proposal.
“It’s bizzare thinking … We really have not had a good explanation from the perpetrators of this as to their motivation and what they’re trying to solve,” Soglin says.
There city council will vote on a resolution against the proposal next week.
The measure lies within the state budget, which passed in the Assembly yesterday. It now heads to the Senate, which is expected to take it up Friday.