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Treutlen BOE Uses Eminent Domain For School Site
Tuesday, 14 April 2009

April 14-- After a two-hour executive session, the Treutlen County School Board voted to exercise its power of eminent domain to acquire property for the county's new K-12 school complex.

The 137-acre tract is located on U.S. 29 north of Soperton just beyond the county's industrial park.  School Superintendent Chuck Ellington says eminent domain will allow the school board to gain clear title to the land.

"In considering this site, we determined there were some covenants which restricted the land to certain uses.  One of the purposes of moving forward with eminent domain is to provide the community with clear title unencumbered by any restrictions so we can move forward with construction," he said.

Soperton resident Royce Fowler objects to the board decision to use eminent domain.  He owns property adjacent to the proposed school site and contends other land nearby would have been a more logical choice.

"I don't know any other word but very unreasonable.  The school board would rather take 15 acres of wetlands than to take 15 or more acres of high ground on a 350 acre tract directly adjoining it that the property owner is willing to sell.  The decision they've made is quite shocking," Fowler said.

According to Superintendent Ellington, it will take at least two more years to get the estimated $26 million dollar complex built.  

Before anything else can happen, a Superior Court judge will appoint a special master who will conduct hearings to determine how much the school board will pay landowners for the condemned property. 

Landowners who disagree with the amount the school board offers have the right to appeal for a jury trial to resolve the issue. 

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