Jul 03, 2019

Sewer Line Easement Jeopardizes School Construction Timeline in Tennessee

Private property owners are fighting back against sewer line & access road easements in their backyards 

Private property owners are fighting back against sewer line & access road easements in their backyards

A battle over property rights and easements for a sewer line and access road may jeopardize the opening of a new school in Gallatin, Tenn. 

County officials want to use a greenspace in the countryside of the Tennessee community for a new sewer line. The proposed line would be connected to Liberty Creek School, a new school being constructed nearby to accommodate a rising population.

According to WKRN, officials have sent neighbors and property owners of the green space easement offers, one for a sewer line and the other for a paved access road. The access road easement would follow the sewer through backyards of residents, and they argue the easements infringe on their property rights.

“It’s our property, we bought this to be our park,” said resident Deborah Holmes to WKRN in May. “What we care about is people walking in our backyard.”

Director of Sumner County Schools Dr. Del Phillips III discussed the importance of the sewer line to the new school’s construction timeline during a council meeting in June. 

“It’s going to delay the school,” Phillips said at the meeting, according to WKRN. “There’s not a question in that.”

The new school was set to open in 2021, but has now been pushed back. School officials said the delay is due to the design process as well as the sewer line, and Holmes said she feels county officials are using the sewer line as a scapegoat for the construction timeline changes.

Holmes said she and her neighbors are fighting to maintain their property rights. Residents in the area also believe the line could lead to more developments by their homes, which would disrupt their way of life.

“The thing is, if we wanted to live in the city, we wouldn’t have moved here from the city,” Holmes said to WKRN. “So if there’s any way for us to protect, even if is just a small area, then that’s what we’re trying to do.”

According to WKRN, county officials are confident the sewer line will go in “one way or another,” suggesting the easements may become a battle over eminent domain.

“Hopefully, we get this worked out and things move forward,” Dr. Phillips said to the board, according to WKRN. “I do anticipate we will have to—we being the county and White House Utility District—we will have to condemn some of these properties. They will not sign an easement.”