Think about your home… you’ve worked hard to buy a wonderful house (with) three acres of land.
Then one day, you get a letter wanting to take part of your property for a sewer line to a new school and for a greenway through your property. They will take possession, yet you will still be responsible for taxes and you have the liability exposure.
The county executive has known about this plan for years while effected homeowners had never been told a thing. About four months after the plan was developed in 2005, the county executive just happened to buy land right by the top of the proposed sewer extension. That land is anticipated to increase in value 40 times.
There was never any cost-analysis done on alternative options for the sewer line which could have been laid beside the road that will already need to be widened but that would take it only to the school. The current proposed 15-inch line will be paid for by taxpayers now but a year later; it will be turned over to the White House Utility District (WHUD) who will then reap the benefit of the taxpayer-installed line while they get to charge fees to developers and homeowners.
The county executive appoints the WHUD board and director just happened to contribute to the county executive’s last campaign. You also learn that the engineer selected without any competitive bidding also contributed to (that) campaign.
The school actually only needs an 8-inch line which means 30 percent of proposed line would be for the school while 70 percent would be for non-school use.
Who benefits from a 15-inch line going along an environmentally sensitive creek across private property? Could the doubling in width of the sewer pipe be for the anticipated developments that will be going into the area? Could it be that one of the most expensive costs to developers is running utilities to their new neighborhoods? If the taxpayers have already done that under the guise of building a school complex, it dramatically reduces the costs for developers.
Now you suddenly have to fight the county and the powers that be to keep control of your property. When your community rallies to your defense over this abuse of power and starts pushing back, the commissioners get scared and promise that they won’t install the greenway and at the same time that the county executive is saying (captured on video at an Aug. 29 meeting) that he doesn’t consider the greenway off the table.
At that same meeting, the director of schools taunts another upset homeowner to take them to court over it, but says he wasn’t aware of any time frame for legal action. The following week, you get served with legal papers trying to expedite the eminent domain process.
The irony of your taxpayer dollars to fight to take your property away is not lost. Because of the poor way this project has been planned, the costs for the new school will continue to climb.
That same director of schools has refused to explore any other options proposed by the homeowners or citizens saying he will not let a few citizens tell him what to do. It seems the more you learn, the dirtier and more corrupt this situation becomes.
How would you feel? If they behave this way with you, would they stop here? Or would they move on to your neighbors? Would they start taking land from them for the next growing area? What could you do to protect your home? To protect your neighbor’s home? If you want to know more about how you can help, contact me at 615-975-7884.
Ruth Fennell is a Gallatin resident.