TYLER, Texas (KETK) – The Smith County Commissioners Court voted on Tuesday to approve the eminent domain proceedings for two businesses on the east side of the square.

Smith County hopes to acquire MJL Holdings at 206 and 214 East Erwin and Rodney Kamel’s at 211 East Ferguson.

Smith County Judge Neal Franklin explained this has been a work in progress for years.

“We’ve been working for quite some time now, even multiple years for purchasing property on the east side of the square to build our new courthouse,” he said.

Franklin is hopeful the two business will accept the final offer letter they sent out recently, so they don’t have to move forward with the eminent domain.

He also explained what the next step is if the business decides not to accept the offer.

“It will go to another court, another judge, and they’ll assign three special commissioners that their duty is only to say, ‘this is how much this property is worth. This is the value of these properties. Then, we have to pay that value, and they have to give us the deed,'” said Franklin.

KETK met with Rodney Kamel to see how he feels about selling his business.

“I love this building, love this business. I come here every single day rain or shine to be sure it is still here,” he said.

Kamel said he bought his building back in 1978. He explained that people do not believe him about how historic his building is.

“They don’t want to listen to somebody that knows something about town. They’re paying me less money than anybody else on the whole square,” said Kamel.

He agreed that Smith County needs a new courthouse.

“This is it. We must have this courthouse as soon as possible. We need it. I am certainly not going to be the one to try and stop them from building it,” said Kamel.

He said he has about 10 days to make the decision.


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