Three months of discussions between Mansfield residents and the Georgia Transmission Corporation ended Tuesday without compromise, and the corporation is moving forward with its original plan to build a new 3.2 mile transmission line that will pass through part of Mansfield.
Residents protested the line because they said it would degrade the town’s sightlines and affect property values, and they proposed alternative routes at a Sept. 15 meeting.
However, Georgia Transmission turned down the proposals Tuesday because the alternative routes would be longer, more expensive, cut across more parcels and increase the number of trees that would have to be cut down.
The transmission line is needed to increase capacity south of Mansfield to Monticello and would serve areas along Alcovy Road and in Social Circle.
“The alternative routes required up to 25 additional acres of easements on private property and cleared as much as 9 additional acres of forest. They were up to 1.4 miles longer and cost approximately $1 million more than the original route,” spokeswoman Jeannine Haynes said in a press release.
Residents take issue with the argument that more parcels would be affected. They say the proposed transmission line will run through residential areas in Mansfield and cross front yards, while their longer proposed route would take the line out into the country where it would cross fields and forests.
The residents’ alternative route would only pass by 11 homes, instead of the 27 homes under the Georgia Transmission line. In addition, 14 fewer lots would be affected and 39 fewer National Historic Resources would be located near the lines.
More importantly, the planned line has roused significant opposition, while the alternative route would be more welcomed, residents say. In addition, they said much of the line would follow existing power line easements.
Resident Todd Hilton, one of the founders of Mansfield Against Power Line Encroachment (MAPLE), said he felt the Georgia Transmission had not acted in good faith. Residents had expected the company to reply to their alternative routes within two weeks, but instead were greeted with a “no” answer two months later.
“We don’t accept this decision and we’re not going to stop fighting,” Hilton said at Tuesday’s meeting.
Georgia Transmission’s next steps will be to contact affected property owners and negotiate prices for property easements, while Mansfield protestors will be running their own campaign to prevent residents from signing away property rights.
“Georgia Transmission is prepared to continue forward with their intrusion and are prepared to wield the weapon of eminent domain against all who resist,” residents said in a press release. “It is obvious that Georgia Transmission’s main objective is to bring their project in at the lowest financial cost, while ignoring the cost incurred by the individuals whose lives will be most negatively impacted. But they need to hear the clear message, that our steering committee will continue to make a stand for the City of Mansfield and will not roll over and accept this decision.”
Resident Carol Jones said if enough residents refuse to sign away property easements, Georgia Transmission is unlikely to liberally use eminent domain and will be forced to consider another route.
Rep. Doug Holt (R-Social Circle) continued to support residents and said while legislation cannot affect specific situations, the power of eminent domain is given by the General Assembly, and if Holt feels the power is being abused, he will work to correct that situation.
Affected Mansfield landowners will meet at 7:15 p.m., Wednesday at the Mansfield Community Center.