Merriam changes compensation policy for property damage, acquisition; cited as more beneficial to homeowner

MerriaM_City_HallThe Merriam City Council Monday unanimously agreed to a new policy for compensating residents whose property is damaged or acquired in city capital projects.

The new policy sums up in two paragraphs that the city will compensate owners for any permanent or temporary right of way or easements and additionally will compensate them for any appurtenances damaged or destroyed.

The new policy replaces a much longer policy that included details on how damaged trees, sod and other landscaping will be replaced.

Essentially, the new policy will use fair market value – determined either by the current property values in the county appraisers office or a new professional appraisal – for the land and for any other appurtenances.

“(It’s the) first thing I have seen that is going out of its way to help residents,” Councilor Jim Wymer said. City administrator Phil Lammers said he could not “imagine a case where this would not benefit the property owner.”

City staff said it will still be practice to replace sod, driveways and walls that are damaged or destroyed. But other items, including trees, the homeowner would be paid and could decide what to do about replacement. “They will be coming away from this with a lot more money,” said Mayor Ken Sissom.

Prior to the policy change, a mature tree would be replaced, but with a much smaller tree.

The policy will be in effect immediately and apply to city projects that will be carried out this year.