CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The city of Charlottesville warns it will use eminent domain to take over the Water Street Garage, if needed. 

The warning was sent in a letter to the parking center following a closed door meeting last week with Charlottesville City Council.

Dave Norris, the general manager of the Charlottesville Parking Center, says the warning is a flagrant abuse of eminent domain power. He adds City Hall is using the heavy hand of government to get its way.

The city and the parking center are in a dispute over rates at the Water Street Garage. The parking center wants to increase the price of parking at the garage.

Norris says the center got an official communication from the city's attorney urging the sale of its spaces in the garage after a closed door council meeting last week. If not, the city would go as far as to use eminent domain to seize the garage.

"Frankly it sends a chilling signal to any business that's thinking about investing in downtown Charlottesville that if somehow you get on the city's bad side, they're going to threaten to take over your business and destroy your business," said Norris. 

One business owner had a different perspective.

"They believe that all of the private ownership of the parking garage, which is a public utility, doesn't make sense, so I don't see any abuse of power. It's in the interest of the people of Charlottesville," said Ludwig Kuttner, a property and business owner in Downtown Charlottesville. 

Meanwhile, the parking center wants a third party to come in and take over the garage until the legal issues are worked out. A court hearing is set for Wednesday afternoon for the third party issue.