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Mansfield fights condemnation

MANSFIELD -- Georgia Transmission Corporation is attempting to condemn property the city of Mansfield claims is a public park.

GTC filed for condemnation in Newton County Superior Court on June 11. The city of Mansfield filed a motion to dismiss on July 2, stating that the property is currently dedicated for public use as a municipal park and power of eminent domain does not extend to public property.

GTC countered in its response that the property was owned by Beaver Manufacturing Inc., a private company, which deeded the roughly 2.6 acres to the city to thwart the condemnation. The warranty deed is dated June 28.

The property is an L-shaped parcel surrounded by Carmel Church Road, 2nd Street, Poplar Street and Sixth Avenue.

GTC says there were problems with the transfer rendering it invalid, and Beaver was still the owner of the property when the condemnation was filed. The response does not specify the nature of the problems of the deed transfer. GTC also says that its easement and the public park can co-exist, and the property can be legally condemned.

Right now, both sides are waiting for a judge to rule in the matter.

Clearing activities began Monday, but the city has since issued a stop work order and those activities have been suspended, according to GTC spokeswoman Jeannine Haynes. City officials had previously signed off on the clearing at a meeting held with GTC, she said.

Negotiations are complete on 22 of the 24 easements targeted by GTC. A condemnation is also sought to clear the title to a piece of property that was never probated and was inherited by a private property owner.

"We believe he is going to work with us; he can't convey the easement until the title has been cleared," Haynes said, adding that the best way to clear up the matter is to file for condemnation.

The property the city claims it owns is the only other parcel needed by GTC for its project, which involves erecting large concrete poles and running power lines through the back streets of the town to a substation on Mill Pond Road.

"The new transmission line is needed to provide reliable electric service to this area. Utilities in Georgia have the right of eminent domain to prevent an individual or an entity like the city from denying an essential service to an entire community. GTC worked diligently to reach an agreement with the city just like we did with the private property owners. Because of the need to complete the project by December, we had no choice but to file condemnation. This doesn't mean that we won't continue to work to reach an agreement. It simply means that we ran out of time," Haynes said.

Construction on the transmission line is slated to begin in mid-October. The substation is scheduled to be completed in September and both will be in service by December "to ensure reliable service during the cold winter months. The demand for power peaks in winter in this area because most people heat their homes and businesses with electricity," Haynes said.

The project has angered Mansfield residents who organized a grassroots campaign to prevent GTC from taking the route through town. It motivated proposed legislation by Rep. Doug Holt, R-Social Circle, that would have required disputes between local governments and subsidiary companies to go through binding arbitration by the Public Service Commission. The bill did not make it out of the House.

Haynes said there is already a law, House Bill 373, that regulates transmission line location.

"Locating a new transmission line is a balancing act between the wishes of property owners or a community group and meeting the electrical needs of the greater community," she said. "This particular project is a great example of the current law working very well. We received input and thoroughly examined several alternatives that were offered by individual property owners and a small group of citizens. We have been very transparent in our communication throughout the process."

Comments

Home_in_30055 1 year, 11 months ago

GTC's substation located at the corner of Highway 11 and Mill Pond Road is huge and UGLY. And the concrete poles to come, like the ones north of Mansfield, are not a welcomed sight either. Unfortunately, it looks like GTC has brought an end to our otherwise tranquil path home travelling south on Hwy 11. I can only imagine the tragedy to the homeowners in the path of the power lines and concrete poles that GTC will erect. My family moved to southeast Newton County over 14 years ago so we could enjoy a rural, peaceful small-town setting and still commute to our jobs located in Conyers. "Eminent Domain"...just another way of saying legalized robbery.

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FightOn 1 year, 11 months ago

GTC’s tactics have been bullying from the start. While true that 22 of the 24 property owners have reached an “agreement”, many settled only after being threatened with what might happen if they didn’t (lawyer fees etc…). Many of the signers did not have the resources available to fight this firm on their own. And concerning the gift of the property at the center of this fight, Beaver manufacturing has a long history of supporting the local citizens through the donation of land. (Fire Station, Beaver Park etc…) The L-shaped property mentioned in the article is one of the last remaining green-space properties left within the city limits. And if you want the TRUTH about the other property being held up by a simple Probate issue, you might want to talk to the owner of that property, as he is staunchly opposed to GTC’s taking of his land.

Throughout this yearlong process, the citizens have worked diligently to work with GTC to develop a route that actually made sense. GTC has demonstrated all along that the process was solely driven by cost and not by impact on the community. While testifying before a House of Representative subcommittee, they were questioned as to why their own self-touted industry leading software told them to take an alternate route but yet they chose the one that was least costly for them. (insert sounds of crickets here). The reason that Representative Holt’s resolution did not make it up for a vote is yet another reason that we need ethics reform in relation to the power of LOBBYISTS.

Bottom line is this: GTC did not count on the resolve of the citizens and Council of “Little ole Mansfield Ga”. They are accustomed to getting their way, and they may eventually reach their goal, but they will know that we were here. They continue to bully on, but we will FIGHT ON !!!

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Last_Man_Standing 1 year, 11 months ago

Something smells funny about the part of the article that relates to a condemnation because of the homeowners property needing to be probated. Why would GTC spend all that money in court cost to condemn the property when their lawyers could probate the property for the homeowner ??? (Like they offered in the beginning.) Especially when GTC is so dilligent in saving money by slamming the transmission lines so close to peoples homes that they can hear electricity flowing through them. There were other alternate routes with less impact to homeowners, but GTC ignored them because they cost a tiny bit more.

Every empolyee of GTC drives a brand new full sized truck or vehicle, yet homeowners are offered the bare minimum for thier property. They are the ones that have to live under the lines. If the homeowner chooses to move, their property is worthless because of the transmission lines. GTC will not install a transmission line within 300 feet of a school yet they will put them 50 feet from my children. I guess my children do not have that option.

The people of our town were constantly bullied and threatend by GTC.Just the point of GTC starting to clear the right of way before all of the properties were accquired, shows how arrogant they truely are. Maybe, you should print both sides of the story and maybe that homeowner is not as willing as your article claims.

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