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UPDATED: City invokes use of eminent domain

Body-piercing studio gives way to library

Posted: November 25, 2008 7:14 p.m.
Updated: November 26, 2008 12:07 p.m.

Rob Arvizu, who has been working on and off at the Just Passing Thru body-piercing studio in Newhall, starts his afternoon by preparing the proper tools he'll need to perform piercings later that day.

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The Santa Clarita City Council unanimously voted Tuesday to initiate eminent domain in order to obtain the last parcel needed for the new Newhall library, despite objections from the property owner.

The vote included allowing city staff to use up to $806,000 to purchase the property at 24509 Spruce Street in Newhall. The space is currently occupied by Just Passing Thru, a body-piercing studio open since 1994.
Tuesday's vote marks the first time the city has used eminent domain for the Downtown Newhall Specific Plan.

The vote does not prevent the city and owner Thomas Fitterer from continuing negotiations on the property, something that Councilwoman Laurene Weste encouraged during the meeting.

The only voice of opposition during the meeting was Thomas Fitterer, who owns the property.

"I object to the city taking it," Fitterer said. "They can work around that little area."

Fitterer said he initially wanted to open a dental office on the location. However, he changed his mind after his son, John Fitterer, asked to use the property for his piercing studio, Just Passing Thru.

Fitterer expressed concern over the negotiations with the city about the value of the property and how much it has been appraised for.

"I think that my property is worth a lot more," he told the five councilmembers.

During public comment period, Canyon Country resident Jeff Prata said he would be pleased to see a library in place of Just Passing Thru, which he considered an "eyesore."

"It's bringing Santa Clarita down," he said, as a father who has driven by Just Passing Thru for 15 years.
He applauded the city's efforts.

"I think a library there is going to be perfect," Prata said.

Just Passing Thru occupies the final parcel the city needs before the updated Newhall library, expected to be between 25,000 to 30,000 square feet in size, can be built. The present library is considered by many to be out of date.

City officials view the new library as a key part of the city's plan to revitalize downtown Newhall as it will anchor the area and draw in a range of demographics.

The city has already purchased the other parcels necessary to build the library.

The most recent parcel came earlier in the year when the City Council approved a $1.2 million purchase of the 6,200-square-foot property at 24519 Spruce Street. White Light Chiropractic now sits on the site.

The parcels occupied by CarQuest Auto Parts and Paws for Fun are already under the city's control.

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