Coveted land in Cold Spring will become a school, not a hospital.
Campbell County Circuit Court ruled that Campbell County Schools may purchase the old Disabled American Veterans property in Cold Spring for its second middle school location.
The 30-acre property became available last year when DAV moved its headquarters from Cold Spring to Erlanger.
Developers planned to transform the property into a St. Elizabeth Healthcare medical facility, but the Campbell County Board of Education used eminent domain to try to take the private property for public use to refurbish the building into a new middle school.
The city of Cold Spring purchased the property to try to prevent the school board from obtaining it through eminent domain, according to court records.
Last week, Campbell County Circuit Court Judge Julie Reinhardt Ward ruled in favor of the board of education, allowing them to purchase the property for $5.5 million. Kentucky eminent domain laws allow government entities, such as public schools, to purchase land if the purchase is "reasonably necessary for a valid public use."
Campbell County Middle School is the third largest middle school in Kentucky, with about double the ideal middle school size of 600 to 700 students, according to court records. The school district has been looking for a location for a second middle school for more than a decade.
"This is an exceptional opportunity for our students and families in the north as this site will provide a middle school much closer to their homes, reducing travel times, and for our southern families, as the congestion in our current middle school will be cut in half," Superintendent David Rust wrote in a statement.
Renovating the current 125,000 square foot building at the DAV site is expected to save the school district $7 million, according to court records. The district is also exploring the possibility of using the property to store buses.
D. Angelo Penque, mayor of Cold Spring, wrote in an emailed statement that he is "disheartened" by the court's ruling. The city has the support of the Kentucky League of Cities if it appeals the ruling, Penque said.
"The holding has a chilling impact on the economic viability of cities," Penque said adding that the property will produce $1.5 million a year in tax revenue, which will go to the schools instead of the city.
Northern Kentucky reporter Rachel Berry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @racheldberry.
This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Eminent domain: Campbell County School can take DAV land, court rules