District plans to level homes for parking in Independence - KCTV5

District plans to level homes for parking in Independence

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INDEPENDENCE, MO (KCTV) -

Some Independence residents thought they were losing their homes with nowhere to go, but the Independence School District says that is not the case.

The district bought four homes down the street from their headquarters near East Winner Road and South Arlington with the intention of razing them and building a parking lot.

"They sent us a letter in the mail saying "We bought four houses and we're making a parking lot. You guys gotta get out. We're like, 'We just moved in,'" said Tamara Sublett, one of the tenants facing a move.

Sublett and Michael Oliver signed a three-year lease when they moved into their house in August.

They say the first they heard about the sale was in November when workers for the school district showed up outside their home.

The workers told the couple the district had bought their house and three others. Oliver said he called the district and was told they'd prefer the couple move out in February, or, at the latest, June.

"I was pretty upset. I was mad at first because I don't want to move to be honest with you," Oliver said.

KCTV5 contacted the Independence School District and was told a different story.

The district said it was never its intention to force anyone from their homes, and that it's more than willing to honor the leases. What's more, if any of the tenants do decide to move, a portion of their rent will be refunded.

"We made this very clear to the tenant, and we let her know that clear from the start," said Nancy Lewis, a district spokesperson. "She can stay all three years. We would be happy to have her here."

Lewis said she doesn't know where or when the confusion arose.

This is not a case of eminent domain where the government takes possession of private property for public use. In this case, the landlord sold the houses to the district.

The Independence School District is one of the fast-growing in the metro with more than 14,000 students.

The district has built two new schools in the last two years. The proposed parking lot is part of the district's ongoing expansion.

For their part, Sublett and Oliver say they're not sure when they might move.

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