Beaufort couple fights to keep home endangered by city project

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Beaufort couple fights to keep home endangered by city project

Published Saturday, July 14, 2012   |  600 Words  |  

Keith and Karen Koenig's Beaufort home is not for sale, not for any amount of money, they say.

But the city of Beaufort plans to route a road through their property, which the couple fear will be taken through eminent domain.

"If you're from here and understand the way Beaufort has always been, you would never take from someone else," Keith Koenig said.

The couple said they have put off making improvements to their home at 2413 Boundary St. because of the uncertainty.

They vow it won't be taken without a fight.

"The stress this has put us under is unbelievable," Karen Koenig said.

The road the Koenigs are worried about is part of a master plan approved in 2006 to narrow lanes on Boundary Street, insert medians with plants, and add sidewalks and bike baths. It would connect to a proposed marsh boardwalk. Construction of a walking and biking trail is to begin this fall.

Also included in that plan is reconfiguring the oddly angled intersection of Boundary Street and Robert Smalls Parkway to a 90-degree turn. The road would run through what is now the Butler Preowned Vehicles dealership, which is being moved to the Beaufort Plaza across the street, officials have said.

Polk Street, which runs parallel to Boundary, would be extended nearly a half mile and to a short road to the new intersection.

The parallel road would go through properties belonging to the Koenigs and others. The city would need at least part of about 25 parcels for the Boundary Street project, city manager Scott Dadson said.

The city has not started to acquire the land, but construction is to start next fall. No offers have been made nor agreements struck with property owners, Dadson said.

The city will appraise the land and make offers to purchase all of the property needed for the project. Eminent domain will be used "only when an agreement cannot be reached," he said.

The Boundary Street improvement project is being paid for with a $12.6 million federal grant and $13.7 million in local funds. The grant provides $3 million for land acquisition.

Dadson said the Polk Street extension, which would parallel Boundary, is part of a network designed to give drivers and pedestrians options and relieve traffic on Boundary. It is "integral" to the project's long-term success "because it will help drivers more easily reach their destination while removing some vehicles from the main Boundary Street corridor," Dadson said.

However, the Koenigs believe the plan benefits businesses in that area to the detriment of residents.

They recently posted "No Trespassing" signs to stop surveyors, but the city filed a lawsuit in March to obtain access, according to court records. The Koenigs said they are complying with a court order that allows the surveys, but they're not giving up.

"When you can't live out your life in peace, something is wrong," Keith Koenig said.

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