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Eminent Domain Begins in Fresno for High Speed Rail

The State Public Works Board has given approval for the California High Speed Rail Authority to start the process of seizing its first property through eminent domain to begin construction on the project.

The State Public Works Board has given approval, after voting 3-0 Friday, for the California High Speed Rail Authority to start the process of seizing its first property through eminent domain to begin construction on the project.

The property is at Divisadero Avenue and G Street in downtown Fresno. It's currently being used as a state parole office.

Between Fresno and Madera, there are 380 properties that will be impacted by high speed rail plans. About 40 of those properties have already signed contracts, according to Don Grebe, director of real property for the rail authority.

Eminent domain is the right of the government to seize private property for public use.

Beginning the process of eminent domain means the rail authority is now allowed to access the land to begin construction. Attempts to contact the owner, Frank Solomon, Jr., were unsuccessful.

On Belmont Avenue, a vacant building that used to be a photo shop is next in line to be seized.

Meanwhile, nearby business owners are waiting to find out the fate of their properties.

"I'm a little nervous about the process because obviously I've been here a long time, we're a third generation business. We've been here a long time. We want to keep going. I'm nervous about moving because sometimes customers don't follow," said Brett Jayne, owner of Advance Muffler & Auto Services.

Jayne said he's been waiting to hear an offer from the rail authority who appraised his property earlier this year.

Several businesses on one side of Belmont Avenue, such as Jayne's, would be impacted by high speed rail plans. On the other side of the street, La Tapatia Tortillas is spared.

"I guess I'm torn. It's a greater good, but at the same time, I do feel for the businesses that are going to be impacted or affected," said Justin Rushing, plant manager at La Tapatia Tortillas.

Now that approval has been given, an expert will appraise the property, and a jury trial will decide the value of the property.

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