Home > Column, Traffic > Letter to the Editor: ODOT has shown unfair treatment to property owners

Letter to the Editor: ODOT has shown unfair treatment to property owners

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My name is Don Benton, a life long resident of Guthrie. I went to school here, married here, raised my family here and in the early 1980’s I opened a small business on West Noble here. I tore down a half block of old houses in the West Guthrie bottom and I personally built a concrete structure raised up over the flood plane that I’ve always been proud of.

ViaductMy wife and I started small and worked hard to provide Guthrie with our very best service daily and our family still continues this tradition thirty three years later. Benton’s Service Center & Speed Lubes has always been a good honest living for myself and family and even though I’ll be 68 next week I still enjoy going in daily and working with my oldest son who has now taken over operations of our small business.

Back in 2007 the Oklahoma Department of Transportation announced plans to replace the Highway 33, Cottonwood Creek viaduct and these plans included extending the four lane bridge a block west of our current location and basically devalued our business when they announced they would be condemning everything in its path. Since this announcement our business has continued to open daily but we have been in limbo not knowing if this is the year we will be asked to move our business.

Last year we were contacted by ODOT and were told we would be forced to sell our property for their bridge extension scheduled for 2016. Since then ODOT has came into my business and conducted three bogus appraisals determining the value of our property and each time they come back with the same fifty cents per square foot land value that doesn’t even amount to the price I paid for these lots back in 1982. They give no consideration that this entire half block is covered by concrete drives and parking lots or a 10,000 square foot permanent structure that we conduct business in located on it. There are laws that were set up to protect property owners and insure a fair eminent domain negotiation during our process but ODOT does not have to abide by these laws.

Because so many businesses and property owners were affected by this unfair treatment we had public meetings at the library and received support from the community, media, Chamber of Commerce and Mayor.

This week we have met with legislators at the Capital and explained these unfair negotiations from these rogue ODOT employees. Next Tuesday we are planning to attend the Guthrie City Council meeting and explain to city government the inability for ODOT to enter into a good faith negotiation with us concerning the relocation of our business and our plans to continue serving the Guthrie community for another thirty years.

We understand the immediate need for a new viaduct but the way in which the State is going about this is simply unfair.

Don Benton

Guthrie News Page is adding two related stories below to this letter submitted by Mr. Benton.

Owners wanting fair deal from ODOT’s viaduct project

Video: ODOT holds viaduct public hearing

Categories: Column, Traffic
  1. February 28, 2015 at 5:09 pm

    He built this no one else would
    Don has supported the community and employed a lot of people
    Now it’s time to support him

  2. February 28, 2015 at 7:30 pm

    We also own 3 businesses in that area, as well as 10 lots. We purchased this property back in the 1990’s. Since that time we have made improvements to the properties and kept them rented to businesses who serve our community. ODOT has also dealt very unfairly with us. The comps they gave us to put a value on our buildings do not come close to comparing. One comp they gave in particular was Foster’s old grocery store which is in a residential area, not to mention the fact that when they did the comp it was practically falling down. They also are only offering us 50 cent per square foot for our land. The appraisers were so incompetent that they left off 2 buildings in their offer to us, plus mixed up one parcel with another. When we in good fair told them about their mix up they gave us a new offer, it was for the exact same amount. How did they come up with the same exact amount after adding the additional buildings? They lowered the price they gave per square foot on one and on the other they said the reason they gave us “so much” per square foot for this building was because it had a warehouse. In every meeting we went to prior to the appraisals, ODOT officials assured us they would take into account that our buildings were on a main highway with huge traffic count. None of the comps they gave us accounted for that. When they force us to sell our buildings to them they are taking our lively hood. There is no way we can afford to purchase more buildings for the price they have offered and continue to stay in business.

    We did not accept ODOT’S bogus offer, so now we are now faced with hiring an attorney. Which could mean that the negotiations could be tied up in court for years, how on earth will be be able to make a living under those circumstances?

    We agree with Mr. Benton’s statement: ” we understand the immediate need for a new viaduct but the way in which the State is going about this is simply unfair”.

    Rex Morgan

  3. March 1, 2015 at 8:17 am

    You have spent a lot of money making your business flood proof . They should consider that in their buyout . Our Governor brags about the half a billion rainy day fund the state has. They should give you a fair amount for your business and Guthrie should get a new viaduct.

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