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Monday, December 21, 2020

Fight Over DAV Property Heats Up: School District Files Suit for Eminent Domain

This weekend the Campbell County Board of Education voted to proceed with "condemnation" of the Disabled American Veteran's property in Cold Spring. Condemnation is the act of taking property under eminent domain.

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by Robin Gee, city council beat editor

The Campbell County School District held a special meeting of the board on Sunday, December 20, moving immediately into executive session. When they returned from the session, school leaders announced they would pursue condemnation procedures for the Disabled American Veteran’s property in Cold Spring, voting for the measure 5-0. 

The nearly 30 acres is soon to be vacated by the DAV as they move their operations to a new building to be located in Erlanger. 


City official reaches out before school district meeting
When he learned of the school board’s meeting, Cold Spring city attorney Brandon Voelker reached out to Campbell County Schools Superintendent Dr. David Rust in an email informing him of the city’s agreement with the DAV to purchase the property. He asked the school district to reconsider.

Voelker also noted a similar sized property in Cold Spring near the Crossroads Elementary as well as other parcels in the city and offered to help the schools with finding another location. 

"Cold Spring would welcome the opportunity to meet with the Board and discuss its future plans, including the possibility of city assistance regarding any necessary roadways or other infrastructure. It is unfortunate that a dialogue has not occurred prior to recent developments."

He added, "Again, I felt it was important for the Board to have this information prior to any meeting tonight, which on its face appears to be regarding a piece of property the City of Cold Spring has already negotiated to purchase."

A coveted and important parcel of property

Both the city of Cold Spring and the Campbell County School District have been interested in the property, and both are making plans and moves toward those plans.

City officials had been working to attract a health care facility to the site. Developer Al. Neyer worked  with the city on the project, and after competitive bidding, the developer landed a contract with the DAV and a health care provider for the site.

At the same time, school officials had their own plans for the site. In great need for a second middle school to serve the northern tier of the county, school officials also bid on the property and had hoped for a chance to counter bid. They were not offered that chance.

The school board’s next step was to clear a path for possible "condemnation," the action of taking property for public use through eminent domain. At their regularly scheduled board meeting, officials voted to proceed, enabling them access to the property so they could further explore it to make sure it was indeed suitable for their needs before fully pursuing condemnation. 
The city of Cold Spring held a meeting of council on December 15 to discuss the matter after the school district’s move. City council members voted to authorize the city to purchase the property outright from the DAV. The purchase would include possible issuance of Industrial Revenue Bonds or similar funding options to ensure the collection of taxes on the property.

Fort Thomas Matters reached out to Rust after the school board meeting but he has not been available for comment. We will continue with this story as we receive more information.

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