The owners of a Stillwater dry cleaning shop are pushing back against the city’s efforts to take the property through eminent domain for the sake of more downtown parking.
Owners of Shorty Dry Cleaner, at 121 E. Chestnut St., don’t believe the city’s reasoning for the taking falls under public use or public purpose, as required by state law.
In an letter to Washington County District Judge Juanita Freeman, Daniel Schleck — the property owners’ attorney — asserted that the city’s acquisition will not benefit the general public and is instead designed to “facilitate the maximum redevelopment” of the adjacent National Guard Armory building.
The armory was purchased last year by CVII Holdings of Woodbury, which is planning to convert the building into eight luxury apartments and space for either offices or a brewery or distillery.
“Clearly, this is an example of a City’s attempt to use its eminent domain powers to take the property of one private citizen and transfer it to another private citizen without necessity of exclusively or public use or public purpose,” reads Schleck’s letter, filed last week.
A hearing is set for October.
After making multiple offers on the Shorty property, city officials started the condemnation process this summer in order to expand an adjacent city-owned surface lot.
“Under the law, a public purpose means the public will have the use and enjoyment of the property,” said attorney Peter Mikhail, who is representing Stillwater in the matter. “A public parking facility clearly fits the definition.”