MERRILLVILLE | The Town Council is prepared to pursue condemnation proceedings to acquire property that was once dedicated to Merrillville.
The property in the Preserve subdivision was dedicated to the town in 1996 when Merrillville approved plans for the subdivision, Town Councilman Shawn Pettit said. It's intended to be used as open space and for drainage purposes, he said.
In 2010, the land was listed in a Lake County tax sale, and it was acquired by Xavier Research Institute, Town Attorney John Bushemi said.
He said Xavier Research Institute has verbally requested the town allow construction of single-family homes on the land. Pettit said he isn't willing to approve any type of development there because the property isn't suitable for construction.
Bushemi sent a letter in July to the attorney representing Xavier Research Institute in an attempt to get the title for the property back to the town. He said he hasn't received a response.
The council on Tuesday unanimously decided to pursue commendation proceedings to obtain the property.
Before that can happen, Merrillville must have the land appraised and issue an offer to Xavier Research Institute, Bushemi said.
If the offer isn't accepted, Merrillville can continue with the condemnation process.
Bushemi said some homeowners adjacent to the property have sheds, gardens and swing sets in the open space area. He believes the encroachments are minor.
Bushemi said Xavier Research Institute sent trespassing notices to those residents. He said a trespassing lawsuit has been filed against at least one homeowner.
Pettit said acquiring the land is necessary to protect residents from that type of action and to ensure the property is being used by the town for drainage purposes.
"This has got to stop," he said.