Nearly two years after beginning work on its plan to upgrade Lamberth Road and extend it from Shady Oaks Lane to State Highway 289, Sherman is looking to take the next step and finish acquiring the needed rights of way for the project.

The Sherman City Council recently approved a resolution giving city staff the authority to negotiate for property rights for the final few feet of right of way needed, or begin condemnation proceedings — often called eminent domain — on that portion of the owner’s property next to the road if necessary.

“Soon after we annexed Carriage Estates, we started working toward acquiring additional rights of way for the future expansion of Lamberth Road,” Director of Engineering Clint Philpott said. “We’ve acquired all except one property. And this would authorize us to begin the condemnation proceedings for that final property.”

In December 2015, Sherman approved an annexation ordinance to bring 186.244 acres of land — including Carriage House Estates, Lamberth Road Estates, Shady Oaks Subdivision and various unplatted tracts on Montclaire Drive — into the city limits. More than 60 percent of the just property owners in those areas petitioned the city for the voluntary annexation because of issues with the area’s water system.

In August 2016, the council awarded a $298,000 contract to Huitt-Zollars Inc. for preliminary engineering and right of way/easement documents on the Lamberth Road project. Meadowlake Drive extends east from Hwy. 289 in a straight line toward the east-west portion of West Lamberth Road, but then curves north and meets Lamberth Road after that roadway also turns north. The planned work will join the two streets into one straight roadway that will be perpendicular to Hwy. 289.

Philpott said Sherman has not been able to acquire the last right of way through the same means it did the rest.

“We’ve had it appraised and that’s why we’re having to take it to condemnation,” Philpott said. “What we feel the value is versus what the owner feels the value is, is vastly different.”

Council member Josh Stevenson then asked how vast the difference was and Philpott replied “power of 10.”

“That’s pretty vast,” Stevenson said as the council erupted in laughter.

Documents included with the packet provided to the council show a general warranty deed presented to the property owner that has a consideration price of $660 for the property in question.

The resolution was approved unanimously, though council members Jason Sofey and Willie Steele were absent from the meeting.

When the project was first discussed, city staff said the work on Lamberth Road would be broken into two phases. The first phase would see improvements to the roadway from its intersection with Shady Oaks Lane to the corner where it turns north. The second phase of the project would extend the roadway west from that corner where it turns north to connect it with Meadowlake Drive. City staff estimated the first portion of the work to cost $3.9 million and the second portion would cost $11.9 million.

At the time the contract was awarded to Huitt-Zollars, a company representative said the engineering work and putting together the documents necessary to acquire the rights of way for the roadway would take six to seven months to complete.