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Beaver pledges support of Mansfield in condemnation battle

MANSFIELD -- Beaver Manufacturing Inc. Chief Operating Officer Bill Loeble said property donated by the company to the city of Mansfield is intended for a public park and educational site, and that while plans for the project have been in the works for a while, the donation was expedited in hopes of stopping a transmission line from being run through an easement by Georgia Transmission Corporation.

"There were no immediate plans, no urgency to do that. When GTC came up trying to come across it, we were advised by the attorney to do it. They have suggested a park and power line can co-exist. No parent is going to bring their child with that high-voltage threat there," Loeble said.

The property is an L-shaped parcel surrounded by Carmel Church Road, 2nd Street, Poplar Street and Sixth Avenue. It is actually two parcels of about 14 acres total, with 2.6 of those acres the subject of a condemnation action filed by GTC in Newton County Superior Court.

The property has been intended for use as a municipal park with hiking trails and a nature study area with plants and their identifications labeled. The property is adjacent to land Beaver donated to the school system for a playground for Mansfield Elementary School. Although the property has been donated to the city, Beaver would still be a financial partner in developing the park, Loeble said.

Loeble said Beaver has a history of giving back to the community, also donating land to Newton County for what is now the Mansfield/Newborn Fire Station No. 6.

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 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, which deeded the property to the city to thwart the condemnation. GTC also claims there were problems with the transfer of the deed rendering it invalid, but does not specify the problems. GTC does claim the warranty deed wasn't valid until June 28, and that Beaver was the owner of the property when the condemnation was filed on June 11, although Loeble said the deeds to the two parcels were transferred and dated on March 13 and April 5.

"There's no question we immediately turned this over to the city when this threat came up. When GTC says we did it to thwart the condemnation, yeah, but there's nothing illegal about that. When they say they've been transparent, since the beginning, they certainly have. They've been transparent that they're going to plow through Mansfield," he said.

Loeble said if GTC is successful in its condemnation, the park won't come to fruition.

"I think we mutually agreed there wouldn't be anything to develop. The terrain would be destroyed and the danger, regardless of what GTC says about safety, the danger is there," he said.

Loeble said Beaver is backing the city in its fight to stop the condemnation and the entire 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.

"We're going to continue to support the city in what we think is right," he said. "We've been a community partner and responsible neighbor for 41 years. We're not going to stop now,"

Right now, both sides are waiting for a judge to rule on the condemnation action.