Letter to the Editor: ODOT has shown unfair treatment to property owners
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.
My 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.
Guthrie News Page is adding two related stories below to this letter submitted by Mr. Benton.