The longstanding land condemnation case between Newton County and Emmett Denby, the lone remaining resident to live on land planned for the future Bear Creek Reservoir, was decided this week in Superior Court when the county was ordered to pay Denby $800,000 for his property.
The court order was not yet available, but Scott Peters, the Atlanta-based lawyer contracted by Newton County, confirmed Thursday that the verdict was for the county to pay Denby $800,000 for his 4.08 acre parcel of land at 3124 Henderson Mill Rd.
Peters said he and Denby's attorney, Kenneth Levy, are still working out the final details of the agreement.
Although the sale price was agreed upon in court, Peters said the county already technically has owned the land for several years. Emmett and Rhonda Denby will be allowed to stay on their land until Newton County obtains its Section 404 water permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
"Technically, the property has already belonged to the county for several years, but as an accommodation to the Denbys, they've been allowed to stay there," Peters said Thursday. "The county took the attitude that it needed to acquire the property and have title to it, but they were certainly understanding of the fact that was the Denby's home and they have some children going to school there, so (the county was) trying to be as accommodating as possible."
Peters said he could not comment on the specifics of the case, and Levy did not return a phone call seeking comment Thursday.
According to court records, the county originally tried to condemn Denby's property in 2002, but the case was dropped because of inaction in 2006. The county then refilled its condemnation case in 2008.
According to a previous Dec. 29, 2008 article in The Covington News, "Denby has been an opponent of the Bear Creek Reservoir for more than a decade and has refused to sell his land to the county to make way for the reservoir. The land owned by the Denbys is the last bit of land that the county requires for the 1,242 acre reservoir, which is still awaiting a construction permit from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers."
The county is still awaiting a permit, as of the last public update given by the county attorney's office.