The Journal Gazette has notified the Fort Wayne City Council to forget about the "procedural minutiae".
Should the City Council take the newspaper’s advice, the City Council will never successfully be able to acquire the property. What the newspaper calls "minutiae" is the legislative determination that property owners should receive a Due Process offer. The process specifically sets forth the terms by which a condemnation may occur.
Should the City Council follow up on the newspaper "legal advice", the City Council may find that it will never own the water utility!
In the meantime, the Fort Wayne City Council should not get bogged down by procedural minutiae and should move decisively to begin condemnation proceedings against the privately held utility.
Representatives from both City Utilities and Aqua Indiana will press their case to City Council members at a public hearing on the condemnation ordinance on Tuesday. One issue of potential dispute that council members will need to grapple with is the condemnation procedure.
State law governing eminent domain, which changed recently, requires government entities seeking condemnation to determine there is a public necessity, complete an appraisal of the assets, make a final good-faith offer and then condemn the utility.
Advisers to the city believe the law allows the city to vote on the necessity of the takeover and vote for the condemnation at one time.
Aqua Indiana and its supporters on the council will push for the council to vote soon on the public necessity declaration but to wait for a condemnation vote later.
But City Utilities leaders are right to move forward with the condemnation as well.
Delaying a second vote will only result in mounting costs and would have no practical advantages.