Company uses eminent domain to build pipeline through family estate

Landowner: Pipeline, eminent domain ruining family treasures

BARTOW COUNTY, Ga. -- A Bartow County man is slowly watching his dream disintegrate as a massive gas pipeline is installed right in the middle of his 18-acre family estate.

Henry Mez says he wasn't given a choice in the pipeline project and now his cherished family traditions are disappearing in a haze of broken promises through eminent domain

“I didn't want it here, I didn't ask for it here and it's like its coming through the heart of our property,” Metz said.

Mez raised four children on his acres of farmland near Cartersville, Ga.

“This was our dream,” Mez said. “This is where we wanted to retire.”

PHOTOS: Company building pipeline through man's estate

In 2014, he was informed Oklahoma-based Transco corporation needed more than two acres of his land a 112-mile natural gas pipeline project. 

“It’s coming right down through the middle of our front yard,” Mez said.

Mez and Transco couldn't agree on a price,  so Transco condemned his land using eminent domain, and began construction even as legal challenges were pending in federal court.

“They haven't even paid us a penny,” Mez said.

He said the heart and soul of the family home have been dug up and trampled. A fire pit and picnic area are gone and Mez said, Transco has reneged on a promise to preserve a beloved oak tree.

“This has been here forever,” he said. “This is the family swing here and it means everything to us. We sat here and had picnics here when the kids were little.”

A pond built by his father and a bridge his stepfather constructed are also in jeopardy.

“It's irreplaceable; it's like everything I wanted -- worked hard for --  is gone,” he said.

Mez's attorney, Harry Camp, said condemning authorities will normally work with landowners to preserve family history and memories -- but not this one.

“I've never encountered a more heavy-handed, less property owner-friendly condemning authority than Transco,” Camp said.

Federal judges will decide the complicated court case, while Henry Mez's simple idyllic life in the country becomes less so by the day.

Transco has not returned 11Alive’s request for comment. They have promised Henry Mez that once the pipeline is installed underground, he won't even notice it.

He said he'll notice what's missing: trees and family treasures.

Under the law, governments and some industries can take people's homes and property when it benefits the public. The only rule is the owner must receive fair compensation.

Transco used eminent domain to claim property from about 50 owners for this pipeline. It will supply natural gas to Atlanta Gas Light and Oglethorpe Power Company.

The proposed pipeline stretches from Murray County all the way down to Coweta County.

© 2017 WXIA-TV


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