Georgetown property owners said Friday they are going to move forward with soliciting proposals from environment/archeological consulting firms familiar with the Cherokee heritage of the rural community as the Tennessee Valley Authority moves forward with a “quick take” condemnation action against four pieces of private property.
“Residents of Georgetown have concerns about the environment impact of Project Viper on our community,” said Greg Vital, one of four property owners forced into court by the TVA. “It is also well known that there is reasonable expectation that Cherokee artifacts may exist on the land. We are not going to trust TVA to tell the truth, so we will look to move forward on our own.”
Meanwhile on Friday, Federal Court Judge Sandy Mattice denied property owner’s Greg Vital’s motion to set aside his Nov. 30 order allowing the TVA immediate access to the property the TVA needs for the direct route to Project Viper, its $300 million new secret city that will house the power control center.
Judge Mattice’s order was not related to whether the eminent domain action could proceed; it was solely related to a motion filed to slow down the federal agency after TVA sued the property owners without proper notice on Nov. 20.
In his order, Judge Mattice cited the overwhelming power given to the TVA by Congress in the 1933 TVA Act, a fact that the property owners have acknowledged since August when the TVA first announced its intent condemn property for a mile-long right of way through private property.
Property owners have objected to the fact that TVA intentionally misled Georgetown citizens in August when it announced Project Viper, have failed to negotiate in good faith and have ignored calls for TVA officials to come to Georgetown and explain Project Viper. TVA documents show the agency was planning Project Viper in 2015 but said nothing to the public or elected officials until August 2018.
Judge Mattice acknowledged TVA’s history abusing citizens in obtaining property in his order, saying, “Mr. Vital’s consternation with what is transpiring in this action is understandable and very familiar to this Court.” Yet, Mattice admits the power given to the TVA by Congress and the “evolution” of law over time limit his ability to do anything to restrict the TVA.
“Judge Mattice hits the nail on the head when he says he understands the consternation of the property owners in Georgetown because TVA’s behavior is ‘very familiar to this court,’ “ said Mr. Vital. “What he is saying is that is that TVA has a long history of running over people to take their land, all backed by federal law. That is the behavior we have seen for the past six months. It’s David vs. Goliath described as the federal government. Property rights should mean more than that.”
Mr. Vital said property owners have names of consulting firms qualified to do the environmental and archeological studies. He said the owners would have to move quickly since sub-contractors for the TVA, accompanied by an armed TVA police officer in full body armor, were on the agency’s existing right of way Friday taking archeological samples underneath the existing towers. One of the subcontractors told an employee of Vital’s that she was unsure if the TVA had done archeological studies when the transmission line was first built decades ago.
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