County moves on eminent domain action

This is a view of the proposed take area for the Gallia County Commission’s eminent domain action passed Thursday. The intended land to be acquired is a strip near the road measuring 20 feet by 1,000 feet.

GREEN TOWNSHIP — Gallia County Commissioners passed a resolution Thursday enacting eminent domain powers to acquire an easement on a stretch of land in Green Township.

The land measures 20 feet by 1,000 feet. The county wants it to lay sewage lines for the phase one sanitary system that will ultimately connect with the Gallipolis Wastewater Treatment Plant.

James Snodgrass, of Prospect Road in Green Township, challenged county authorities over the issue when asked about getting an easement for five manholes and pipeline underneath a stretch of his property near the road to supply residents with septic service. Snodgrass refused to grant permission for the easement and county commissioners deemed it necessary to enact eminent domain powers.

“I agree with the resolution, but I do so reluctantly,” Commissioner David Smith said. “I do not necessarily agree with the idea of eminent domain, but I feel that we have no choice in the matter and it’s for the greater good.”

Gallia County Administrator Karen Sprague said the county had few choices in its approach to the sewer line. Either the county could drop the project and leave an estimated 80 people without access to a septic system, or spend a projected $200,000 extra to reroute the system around Snodgrass’ property.

According to Sprague, a second letter was sent to Snodgrass around mid-March to negotiate the interest of the county in purchasing the strip of land nearest to the road.

Snodgrass was unavailable for comment as of press time Thursday.

Sprague said Snodgrass refused to grant the easement on his property for fear that manholes would leak. Sprague noted that manholes were necessary as the sewage lines to be installed were gravity-powered as opposed to pressure-powered like typical water lines. The sewage lines to be used could not be curved and travel in straight-line pipes from manhole to manhole while hitting occasional lift stations. The nature of the manhole helps pass waste along its trip near the curved property intersection with the road.

Franklin Hinkle appraised the targeted strip of land at $1,345. Snodgrass can legally dispute the price of the land being offered to him in court.

Eminent domain is commonly known as the ability or right of a government to acquire private land for public use with reasonable compensation.

Sprague said the county would return Snodgrass’ land to him after installing sewage lines and repair the damage made to the land because of installation.

Dean Wright can be reached at (740) 446-2342, Ext. 2103.