Kent City Council considers eminent domain on four College Avenue homes


Steve Mileski, a property manager for several pieces of locations on Summit Street in Kent, talks with Kent City Council on Sept. 17 about possible emminent domain cases against him.

Alicia Balog

The Kent City Council debated the issue of taking four private properties on College Avenue needed for the new police station at Wednesday’s council meeting.

The council passed the first of three readings on the four draft ordinances, involving the process of eminent domain, or taking private property for public use, on the four homes at 223, 225, 227 and 233 College Ave.

Company S.M. Poulton Ltd. owns the properties 223, 225 and 227 College Ave., and S.M. Templeton Ltd. owns 233 College Ave., according to Steve Mileski, property manager of seven houses on the north side of College Avenue.

Mileski told council he and his wife did not want to sell the properties, part of his livelihood, that they worked almost 18 years to acquire.

“I’ve got some fond memories,” he said. “Christmas pictures, trees, stuff there. It has a lot of sentimental value to me.”

His grandfather moved into one of those properties in 1930, and Mileski lived there in the 1970s, including during the May 4 shooting.

“When the students were shot, I lived in that house, and I remember the helicopters coming over and the jeeps,” he said.

Mileski wrote letters to the council members to express his concerns and asked to see studies on why his properties are necessary to complete the project.

“I voted for the police station,” he said after the meeting. “But I didn’t vote for them to take all of the housing where the students live.”

When the ordinances came up for vote, council members discussed why they were or were not going to vote for the eminent domain of those properties.

John Kuhar, Ward 4, said he was going to vote against the eminent domain due to some of the points Mileski made.

“But the thing that swung my vote from an ‘abstain’ to a ‘no’ was the fact when he said the police station is not going to be built on the north side of College Street,” Kuhar said. “So that left a void in my head because I don’t have any answer. If it’s not going to be built there, why do we have to buy the properties and tear them down?”

Tracy Wallach, Ward 6, said she was not going to vote in favor because she thinks the station’s design could be built “up instead of out” and be more environmentally friendly and therefore wouldn’t need those properties.

However, Garret Ferrara, Ward 1, said he was voting for the process of eminent domain not actually acquiring the properties.

“I believe the process will vet out Mr. Mileski’s concerns,” he said.

Council member Wayne Wilson, Ward 3, later proposed a motion, approved by council, to have a special meeting to do second readings on the drafts. A date had not been finalized.

After the meeting, Ferrara explained that the council approves sending a letter to notify the owner that council wants to buy the property.

“And if they don’t respond to that letter, then we send them a notification that says, ‘We’re going to start the eminent domain process,’” he said.

The process always ends in court, Ferrara said. Both sides present their cases, and the court will decide whether the property is needed or not and, if it is, what a fair value is.

Mileski said they have looked into an attorney, but he doesn’t know what will happen.

“He’s making his case for why he thinks the property is worth more, and it’s part of the process,” Ferrara said. “And he’s fully within his bounds to do that and within his rights, so I don’t blame him for doing it.”

Contact Alicia Balog at [email protected].