A Sumner County judge granted on Monday the White House Utility District’s request to condemn portions of two properties along Upper Station Camp Creek Road in accordance with the state’s eminent domain laws.
The properties, owned by Deborah and Jimmy Holmes and Thomas and Joy Dixon, are two of 16 properties that will be affected by a sewer line that will run along Station Camp Creek in order to serve a new school campus in the area north of Long Hollow Pike.
Seven of the property owners, including the Holmeses and Dixons, declined the utility district’s easement offer and were served condemnation letters on Sept. 4.
The property owners had been notified of the county’s plans to construct a sewer system along the creek behind their homes, along with a green way. When they objected, the green way plans were tabled by members of the Sumner County Commission. The utility district then sent landowners a revised easement agreement for the sewer system that referred to the possibility of condemnation if an agreement was not reached by a certain date.
The two cases were heard on Monday by Sumner County Criminal Court Judge Dee David Gay after Circuit Court Judge Joe Thompson recused himself. Thompson is the brother of White House Utility District Manager Bill Thompson. Court documents show that the cases against the five remaining landowners are scheduled to be heard on Oct. 16 by Chancery Court Judge Louis Oliver.
On Monday, Joshua Denton, an attorney representing WHUD, said that the utility district met the statutory requirements for the state’s eminent domain laws that provide for the seizure of private property for a public use.
Attorney George Duzane, who represented the Dixons, and attorney Jim Fisher, who represented the Holmeses, made similar arguments that the landowners disagreed with the placement of the sewer as well has the lack of transparency throughout the process.
Gay said there was nothing he could do about that.
“That’s a government function,” said Gay.
“[There’s been] a lot of confusion – a lot of animosity, but I’ve got to follow the law,” the judge added before granting the petitions for condemnation.
It will be decided at a later date how much the landowners will be compensated for the easements. A status hearing was set for 9 a.m. on Jan. 17 for both cases.
Sumner County purchased two pieces of property totaling 265 acres that border Upper Station Camp Creek Road to the east and Hunter’s Lane to the west in 2015.
Named the Liberty Creek school campus earlier this year, the area will eventually be home to a middle, high and elementary school as well as a park. An elementary and a high school with a middle school wing is expected to open in August 2022.