By Jesse Wood
Editor’s Note: At the request of the Town of Boone, the Agricultural Advisory Board of the Watauga County Voluntary Farmland Preservation Program will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, July 14, at 7:00 p.m. in the large courtroom in the Watauga County Courthouse.
The purpose of the hearing is to receive information and comments from the Town of Boone and the citizens of Watauga County on the proposed condemnation by the Town of Boone property owned by I.S. Cooper, Ronald Sidney Cooper, and Donald Lee Cooper.
The town intends to condemn the property in order to construct a water line from a new water intake facility to the town’s water distribution system. For more information, contact the Watauga County Soil and Water District office at 828-264-0842.
See prior article about this particular proposed condemnation.
Water & Soil Board To Hear Presentation of Town’s Condemnation of Preserved Farmland
By Jesse Wood
June 24, 2015. Local activist and member of the New River Advocates, Deborah Greene will give a presentation to the Watauga Soil and Water Conservation District board on Thursday morning regarding Town of Boone’s intent to condemn property that is among the Voluntary Farmland Preservation Program.
The Town of Boone is seeking easements near Todd for the transmission line of its proposed water intake located along the South Fork of the New River. If the Town of Boone and landowners can’t come to a monetary agreement, the town has stated that it will acquire the land through eminent domain.
Earlier this month, Ronald Cooper, Donald Cooper and I.S. Cooper, property owners in Ashe and Watauga counties near the proposed intake, filed a complaint against the Town of Boone, demanding a jury trial, stating that property the Town of Boone is “seeking to condemn is qualifying farmland within a voluntary agricultural district established and administered” by the counties under its farmland preservation ordinances.
In May, the Town of Boone sent a “Notice of Condemnation” letter to Ronald and I.S. Cooper, stating that it would be taking 1.81 acres for the “purpose of installing, inspecting, operating, maintaining, repairing and reconstructing water lines and such pipes, manholes, fittings, fixtures and other accessories.”
The town’s letter stated that following installation, the property owner would be allowed to use the property condemned and that the town would restore and repair damage it causes during construction or maintenance.
The Cooper’s complaint notes that any government agency isn’t allowed to initiate an action of condemnation of qualifying property within a voluntary farmland preservation district without holding a public hearing.
The lawsuit is seeking that the courts permanently issue an injunction against the Town of Boone condemning the Cooper’s property and that the town be required to comply with the provisions of the farmland preservation ordinances of Watauga and Ashe County – among other prayers to the court.
As for tomorrow morning’s meeting, Brian Chatham, soil conservation technician in Watauga County, said that Greene reached out to the county department and requested to speak before the board.
Chatham said that after Greene’s presentation, the Water Soil and Water Conservation District board would schedule a public hearing for citizens to comment on the town condemning property in the voluntary farmland preservation program in Watauga County.
The meeting takes place at 8 a.m. on Thursday in the Agricultural Conference Center off of 971 West King Street in downtown Boone.