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HILLSVILLE ee* The Carroll County Public Service Authority, after a public hearing Sept. 14, has cleared the way for condemnation actions on the ongoing regional water project, as well as many utility projects planned for the future.
While county officials have said the goal was to acquire the right to cross a small piece of property needed for the regional water project, the authority included that and many more projects in its public hearing for the acquisition of real estate and easements through purchase or eminent domain.
Besides the water project that will provide a supply from the New River to Carroll County, authority members also included approval for Fancy Gap water and sewer ee* which hadn't yet officially received its funding when the public hearing was initially set ee* Honeycutt Dam water, Exit 1 water, Sylvatus and Mitchell's Crossroads water, Cana sewer and water extension, Pridemore water, Fries Road water, Coon Ridge water, the Galax equalization basin, Trapper Drive water, Landcaster water and Dugspur water.
Because there are so many projects in planning, PSA Director and County Administrator Gary Larrowe explained the public hearing was to seek "blanket authorization" on condemnation matters for the ongoing efforts.
This public hearing would satisfy the requirement of listing the projects that the authority could use eminent domain in, county officials have said.
County officials only want to use eminent domain as a last resort, he said. "Of course, we always work with the public, with the individual landowners in any way possible so that condemnation does not have to take place."
But in this situation, the joint landowners for the property needed for regional water wanted Carroll County to pursue condemnation to come up with the value of the land in question, Larrowe told the PSA members.
Taking property is not the business of the authority ee* it was in 1998 that condemnation was last used in connection with a project, he said. The last thing that the authority wants to do is condemn property, but sometimes it's necessary.
The only speaker during the public hearing was landowner Richard Mark Caldwell of Fancy Gap.
"It looks like the water tank's going to be on my property," he said. "So that's why I'm here, to see how big it's going to be.
"I'm not against it ee* I'd like to know a little more about it."
He also mentioned that other people got a card about the public hearing, but he'd been left out of the notification.
It appeared to him that the water tank would be right in front of his house ee* it seemed like it would go right in the middle of his driveway.
Larrowe assured Caldwell the tank would not be planned for that location.
Authority Chairman Sam Dickson directed staff to work with Caldwell and answer his questions.
There were no other speakers.
After the public hearing, Authority member Andy Jackson made a motion to approve the resolution on using eminent domain.
This resolution gave the PSA staff and attorney authorization to take actions necessary "to acquire by gift, purchase or the exercise of the right of eminent domain lands or rights in land or water within, outside or partly within Carroll County, Virginia, as necessary for the construction, reconstruction, improvement, extension, operation and maintenance" of the water and sewer projects.
Authority member Manus McMillian seconded the motion.
"I think Mr. Larrowe made it clear that this is something we will not use very often, but it's one of those factors that could come up and I think we simply need to have it in place," Authority member Tom Littrell said.
All authority members voted yes, and the resolution was approved.