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Any Private Property Rights left in CALIF?

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graybull

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Negotiations could resolve ranch fight

Ali Bay
California Staff Writer

DAVIS, Calif. – Yolo County and the owners of the 17,300 acre Conaway Ranch have agreed to negotiate a possible settlement in the county’s quest to acquire the ranch by eminent domain.

Both parties announced on Aug. 18 that the Aug. 23 hearing on the eminent domain proceedings had been postponed until January of next year to allow the county and the Conaway Preservation Group time to “engage in serious settlement discussions.”

Attorneys for both the county and Conaway did not immediately return calls, but Yolo County Supervisor Helen Thomson said she was optimistic the negotiations would resolve the issue.

“We are encouraged by the negotiations that we have had to date with the owners of the Conaway Ranch and expect that these negotiations will continue to be fruitful,” said Thomson in a prepared statement.

A spokesman for the Conaway Preservation Group said there’s no deal on the table, but the owners of the ranch have “essentially agreed to talk.”

Last year the county launched eminent domain proceedings to take over the ownership of the ranch, an agricultural gem located between the cities of Sacramento, Davis and Woodland. County leaders have since developed a mutual agreement with the Rumsey Band of Wintun Indians, owners of the Cache Creek Casino, to help them acquire the land.

The county has argued that the current owners of the ranch, led by Sacramento developer Steve Gidaro, were likely to either sell the ranch’s valuable water rights or develop part of the farm.

In public town hall meetings, the Conaway Preservation Group has maintained it has no intentions of developing the land and is instead looking to purchase conservation easements to keep some of the property in agriculture forever.

“I think the goal all along was that we feel the land can be responsibly managed,” said Tovey Giezentanner, a CPG spokesman. While a report in the Sacramento Bee indicated the county is still seeking to purchase the land, Giezentanner said the current owners would like to keep private ownership of the ranch while “figuring a way to create greater certainty for the county” that the owners would preserve the land’s water and land.
 

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