By CAROL RYAN DUMAS
CALDWELL, Idaho -- A judge is expected to rule in May on the City of Caldwell's bid to take the Pioneer Irrigation District's property within the city by eminent domain.
District Court Judge Bradly Ford heard arguments March 7 on Pioneer's motion to dismiss the city's eminent domain lawsuit.
The judge gave the parties 28 days to file supplemental briefs and will likely adhere to the typical 30-day wait before a ruling, putting an expected ruling off to the earlier part of May, Scott Campbell, Pioneer's attorney, said.
Pioneer filed the motion to dismiss the city's lawsuit to condemn and take control of Pioneer's drains and water-delivery canals, water rights, and reservoir storage, contending the city is exceeding its municipal authority.
The motion also contends the condemnation conflicts with Idaho's irrigation district law, violates legal compensation requirements, fails to support a more necessary public use of the property, and fails to join the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation - which legally owns Pioneer's water storage rights in three reservoirs -- in the lawsuit as a defendant.
Pioneer alleges the core of the eminent domain lawsuit, filed in November, and other legal actions pending between the city and the irrigation district, is whether the city can discharge its urban storm water runoff into Pioneer's system without prior written approval.
Judge Bradly did not indicate which way he was leaning, Campbell said, adding that it's dangerous to try to glean an indication from questions at the hearing.