Greenville Utilities will take action to compel a holdout property owner along Mills Road to grant an easement for a sewer line following a vote by its board.
The Greenville Utilities Commission board unanimously voted to authorize staff to begin condemnation action to secure the last of 26 easements needed for the work.
Despite lengthy negotiations, one property owner will not agree to sell his property, which totals approximately 0.12 of an acre.
“This property owner is out of state,” said GUC General Manager/CEO Tony Cannon. “We’ve had quarterly conversations but we just can’t come to terms.”
GUC attorney Phil R. Dixon said GUC increased its offer three times, but the property owner is demanding an amount more than 20 times higher than the original appraisal.
GUC notified the property owner in April that it would pursue condemnation if a price couldn’t be reached. Multiple appraisals have been performed.
“I know it’s something you don’t like to do,” Dixon said.
However, GUC soon will get the required state permits to begin work. And it can’t advertise for construction bids until all easements are obtained.
Filing a lawsuit allows GUC to immediately acquire the easement and begin soliciting construction bids. The suit will likely go to meditation, and if that’s not successful, a jury trial.
“The cost for going through a condemnation action is significant, for his side as well as ours,” Dixon said.
It was GUC’s hope that an agreement would be reached when the property owner learned the utility would pursue condemnation. That didn’t happen.
“I hope that (the fact) we’ve got 25 of the 26 shows we’ve been reasonable,” Dixon said.
It is unfortunate, board member Peter Geiger said, “but it’s important that for future easements that you don’t establish a pattern where you can be held up.”
Greenville City Council also has to give authorization to file the condemnation suit.
Other action taken during Thursday’s meeting included:
- A presentation on GUC’s fiscal year 2020-21 audit. April Adams with Cherry-Beckaert, the outside auditing firm, said GUC received unmodified opinions on its internal controls and safety and security of its financial information. An unmodified opinion is the highest assurance that can be given, Adams said.
- Awarded J. Fletcher Creamer & Sons a $683,616 contact to rehabilitate about 2,000 linear feet of a cast iron water main line along Howell Street.