County Commissioner Michael Shane Wilcher is taking a stand against a forceful land acquiring attempt by West Warren Viola Utility District.
“I am asking the county attorney to draft a resolution denouncing the unlawful acts and actions by West Warren Viola Utility District in attempting to take private property from the Jarrell family in Coffee County, and asking the utility to cease and desist any current and future attempts, legal or otherwise, to condemn or take private land away from the Jarrell family of Coffee County,” said Wilcher.
Over the past three years, the utility has been embroiled in a bitter land dispute with the Jarrell family. The source of contention is a 5.75-acre portion of land near Manchester atop Flat Mountain. While the utility determined it would be the ideal location to improve water supply to Morrison and to encourage future expansion at Mountain View Industrial Park, the family did not want to sell land that has been in their family for six generations.
Utility district plans were to divide the 200-acre farm with an access road with an eight-foot high cyclone fence and a 30-foot-tall, 2-million-gallon water tank. Legal steps were taken to acquire the property through the power of eminent domain.
To date, courts have ruled against the utility district’s attempts to take the land by force on three occasions -- May 2013, August 2013, and June 2014. The utility was ordered to pay the Jarrell family’s attorney fees.
“The fees alone are in excess of $107,000. That is not including the $93,000 and rising in attorney’s fees for the utility that will be passed on to the people of Warren County,” said Wilcher. “The utility has chosen to continue the legal fight to take the Jarrell’s land and run up the financial expense for the people of Warren County, as well as threatening our county’s relation with neighboring Coffee County.”
Enough is enough, says Wilcher.
“As a commission, we have voted on resolutions supporting Musky fishing and will be voting to simply voice our support of the local railroad. The people of Warren and Coffee County deserve to see how elected officials stand on the issue of private property rights and government overreach as well. An author once said ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’ What does taking private property from a family in a neighboring county make us?”