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O, the deceptions, the conflicts we could name

It appears that there will be a significant cost overrun to build the West Fayetteville Bypass along Tillman Road.

I was advised that there are five springs that feed water into the road area. I’m also told that the county engineer and former land acquisition specialist recently left that area stating that they were going to have to redesign the road to allow for the additional wetland problem that has been encountered.

According to the owner, the county indicated that it would have to take additional land borings to determine what would have to be dealt with.

It would appear that the county is rushing the acquisition process without evaluating the geological and topographical conditions indigenous to each tract. Whatever happens, the landowners are left to deal with the runoff.

At the last commissioners meeting, I called upon commissioners Brown and McCarty to follow all cost overruns and report any significant variances to the public. The public should be keenly interested, since 55 percent of the public voted for Brown and McCarty.

Another person in the TIllman Road area advised that she had relatives that had rejected an offer from the county only to find the county countering with an even lower offer than made initially.

A neighbor came over to our house one day saying that he had been contacted by a key Fayette County employee who advised him that his land would be condemned for not negotiating in good faith. In March of this year he had been given a 90-day offer that should have been good until June. He was told in late April that he had only until early May. That was less than two months.

Another lady complained that she was having difficulty recovering connection costs on a water well that the road would cause to be replaced. She is now consulting an attorney.

Another neighbor told us that the right-of-way agent had told him that the road would be elevated 12 feet near his house, which he feared would cause water buildup around his house. We checked with Public Works Director Phil Mallon, who told us that this would not be the case. Someone is sending mixed signals.

Several more affected landowners have indicated that the land acquisition agent has been relentless in repeated telephone calls, trying to rush them. We were visiting a commissioner’s mother-in-law when the agent showed up and attempted to negotiate land acquisition by the county with the commissioner and his family. The commissioner told her that it was illegal for her to negotiate the purchasing of land with a commissioner or his family, and reminded her that she had already been told not to do that.

On April 19, 2011, my wife and I received a written offer dated April 15, 2011, from the county to buy our impacted land for the West Bypass. The offer recited that it was good for 90 days. In theory, that would have meant that the offer was good until July 15.

But on May 5, 2011, we received a second letter from the county giving us only until May 12 to respond to the offer, or legal action would be taken against us.

In other words, the initial offer was deceptive and misleading with its 90-day period. The actual time we will be given is actually only three weeks, not three months. And to respond to the county, we will have to get an appraisal, which takes time. This is Gestapo tactics.

We decided to get a law firm in North Georgia because we found what appeared to be a possible problem with a law firm we initially found in the Henry County Yellow Pages. It advertised itself as “eminent domain specialists.” The attorney I spoke with in Henry County said that his firm already represented Fayette County. He recommended a Fayette law firm.

After doing a little checking on the Fayette firm, we found one of its principals appearing as the registered agent for developers on the West Bypass. They were also contributors to the 2010 Smith and Maxwell campaigns. Additionally other folks had advised us to get as far away from Fayette County as possible.

So we carried the land offer package we had received to a specialized attorney far away from Fayette County. The first thing he said was “from the property ownership and lack of a viable destination, this looks like a developer’s road.” He said that he would help us get an appraisal, and we left his office feeling very encouraged.

Finally, we learned that the name of one of the Fayette law firm’s partners also appeared on documents relating to the Addison Lester family. Commissioner Hearn had nominated his cousin, Addison Lester III, to the Elections Board. It was brought out at the last commissioners workshop that Mr. Lester is the controlling partner of the Lester Family Limited Partnership LLLP.

This entity owns over 100 acres on the West Bypass, which Commissioner Hearn is supporting. Mr. Lester is a director of the Fayetteville Development Authority. Mayor Ken Steele is anxious to annex the West Bypass into Fayetteville. But neither Mr. Hearn nor Mr. Frady has shown any signs of wanting to clear the air. They are just as determined to have Mr. Lester represent the commissioners on the Elections Board as they are to press on with the West Bypass.

Mr. Hearn failed to provide any reasons for replacing incumbent Marilyn Watts, whether for alleged poor performance or any other reason.

Steve Smithfield

Fayette County, Ga.



suggarfoot's picture

It seems painfully obvious they are rushing to build the bypass for a very obvious reason. They know they will not get relected but have a vested (possibly money?) interest in getting the bypass so far along before they lose office that the only thing the next group can do is finish it.

When is someone going to pull the plug and call in the law for an invesigation?

Give me the phone number and I will!

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