High-speed train wants to take a 7-Eleven by Eminent Domain – GV Wire

The High-Speed ​​Rail Authority wants more than just a Slurpee at a 7-Eleven in northwest Fresno. He wants part of the property.

In Fresno County Superior Court on May 19, HSRA has filed an eminent domain complaint stating that “certain immovable property or an interest therein is necessary for the purposes of the high-speed train system”.

A map of the proposed eminent domain shows that HSRA is seeking a portion — about one-sixth of the 0.6-acre property — from 7-Eleven to 4510 W. Shaw Ave., in the same mall as Costco. The property would be used for a maximum of 36 months during construction.

An HSRA spokesperson predicts 7-Eleven could continue to operate its store – which includes a gas station – during construction.

7-Eleven’s requests for comment were not returned.

500 eminent domain lawsuits for the project so far

The lawsuit is just one of six high-profile lawsuits filed this year in Fresno County by the state to acquire land for the high-speed rail project.

The authority claims that it has filed around 500 eminent domain lawsuits in total.

“The Authority has acquired over 2,000 properties, most without reaching this part of the process. The properties we already have on hand represent over 90% of the total properties we need for the first 119 miles currently underway,” HSRA spokesman Kyle Simerly said.

The first link in the project crosses the San Joaquin Valley. As planned, the system would eventually include over 800 miles of track, with up to 24 stations, says the authority.

HSR Building Overpass at Shaw Avenue

HSRA plans to realign Shaw Avenue so that it crosses two sets of rail tracks – one for high-speed rail and one for freight trains.

Construction would ease the Shaw Avenue crossing that has long been a traffic nightmare.

“This viaduct has a multitude of benefits for the community. By separating what is a railroad crossing, we anticipate a myriad of safety, air quality and mobility benefits for those who use Shaw. There will no longer be the possibility of interactions between trains and cars, bicycles and pedestrians and there will be less downtime for car traffic,” Simerly said.

A rendering of the construction of the high-speed train at Shaw Avenue, crossing Golden State Boulevard and the train tracks. (Picture: HSRA)

High-Speed ​​Rail Authority board member Henry R. Perea says litigation is usually part of the process.

“We always hope from the outset that people can settle their problems or their cases with the authority. But in the event that we can’t, then that’s just the next step in the process to get to a point where we can reach a property settlement,” Perea said.

Perea said the reasons the cases go to litigation include negotiating a price. He also said there could be a tax advantage for landlords if an eminent domain case goes to court.

Information on the amount of HSRA offered for the 7-Eleven property has not been made public.

[Update, 6/02/2022, 5 p.m.: this story has been updated to clarify the nature of the overcrossing between Shaw Avenue and the railroad tracks.]

HSR wants lifestyle solar property

Across the street on Shaw Avenue, the HSRA has also filed an eminent domain notice for land owned by Lifestyle Solar’s parent company. Adam Hong, who works in business development at the company, says it would be for land next to his warehouse.

“Due to uncertainty, this has prevented us from fully developing the land since we purchased it in 2015,” Hong said. “We’re going to lose a lot of prime real estate.”

Lifestyle Solar has until next Monday to respond to HSRA’s request for land. The case has not yet gone to court, but it may go to arbitration or mediation first.

Hong says Lifestyle Solar will be “negotiate a better price as best we can.”

High Speed ​​Rail plans to take land to the right of the Lifestyle Solar warehouse by eminent domain. (GV Wire/David Taub)

State Public Works Board involved

The decision to pursue eminent domain came from a March 11, 2022 meeting of the State Public Works Board. The state agency reviewed nine properties for eminent domain at this meeting. Only 7-Eleven sent a letter of objection.

The council oversees “tax matters associated with the construction of projects for state agencies”, the the state website says. Members consist of various units of the state government. He frequently discusses eminent domain issues. The board has discussed passing resolutions of necessity to advance proceedings 58 times in 2022.

7-Eleven, through Valencia-based attorney Douglas Gravelle, questioned the need for what he called a “temporary construction easement.”

“There is insufficient information in the notice to allow (7-Eleven) to determine whether the project TCE size is required for the project. For example, if the proposed size of the TCE is excessive, it goes against the Code of Civil Procedure,” Gravel wrote:.

ARSS documents let’s say the easement will last a maximum of 36 months.

State attorneys told the council that what they were doing was legal and that it was a matter of compensation.

The board approved the continuation of eminent domain proceedings against 7-Eleven in a 3-0 vote. In a separate 3-0 vote, the council moved forward with eminent domain proceedings against eight other properties in Fresno, Kings and Tulare counties.

The city of Fresno is also a defendant, listed as an “easement grantee” in the lawsuit. A city spokesperson did not respond to GV Wire’s request for comment.

A case management conference at the Fresno County Superior Court is scheduled for September 13.

You can get a map of the planned high-speed rail system on this link.

Ironworkers assemble a reinforcing cage for the overpass that will carry high-speed trains on Conejo Avenue and the BNSF line. The viaduct is between Willow and Peach Avenues, west of State Route 43 in Fresno County. (CSRA)

Jose P. Rogers