By Kent Gray

Triplicate staff writer

Del Norte County and Crescent City will be paying nearly half a million dollars to purchase the land needed to build a transfer station.

A purchase agreement signed by the Del Norte Solid Waste Management Authority and Ali and Malihe Hooshnam last week stipulates the Hooshnams will be paid $492,000 for 13.3 acres at the intersection of Elk Valley Road and State Street.

andquot;It is a fair deal for a unique piece of property, especially because it's an industrial/commercial plot that has access to city water and sewer,andquot; said Director Kevin Hendrick yesterday.

According to earlier staff reports, the property was appraised at $286,000.

andquot;It is a negotiated price and it is more than the appraisal that we had,andquot; Hendrick said. andquot;We think it's justified by avoiding the cost an eminent domain.andquot;

Hendrick said approximately $20,000 to $60,000 may have surfaced in attorney fees if the land deal ended up in court, a possible $10,000 in extra staff time, plus the delay and having to restart at a new site, which he said could run between $50,000 and $100,000.

andquot;Since we've completed the environmental impact report on that property, we have been able to analyze and address any issues,andquot; said Hendrick. andquot;Third, we have a local use permit for this property, and of course that makes it valuable to us.andquot;

Although the purchase agreement has been signed, amendments have been made after the fact, mainly for clarification, Hendrick said. These changes will go before the authority at its meeting on Thursday. Most of the amendments were requested by the Hooshnams, but the agency asked for some as well.

andquot;There are contingencies we put in that have to be satisfied,andquot; he said. andquot;One is that we will be able to secure all the permits, that we get the financing to build the transfer station, and the board announces and holds a public hearing on this purchase.andquot;

Yesterday, consultants Winzler andamp; Kelly and subcontractor Kleinfelder were surveying the property and taking soil samples to determine if there is any contamination that needs to be cleaned up.

Hendrick said the property is generally believed to be free of contaminants, however.

andquot;According to the aerial photographs, it was basically trees and an oval racetrackandquot; for motorcycles, he said. andquot;They'll take samples if they see anything that looks like it's contaminated.andquot;

Another Hooshnam property that was considered earlier was believed too contaminated and testing was never completed.

Hendrick said the agency has not ruled out seeking permission to pursue an eminent domain action.

andquot;We're still keeping that option open because we have given it our best shot,andquot; he said.

The transfer station will replace the county's landfill once it reaches capacity and closes next year.