The White House Utility District is taking several property owners along Upper Station Camp Creek Road to court in order to obtain easements for a sewer system that will service a new school campus north of Long Hollow Pike.
Sumner County purchased two pieces of property totaling 265 acres that border Upper Station Camp Creek Road to the east and Hunter’s Lane to the west in 2015.
Named the Liberty Creek school campus earlier this year, the area will eventually be home to a middle, high and elementary school as well as a park. Sumner County Director of Schools Del Phillips has said he expects an elementary and a high school with a middle school wing to open in August 2022.
Residents along Upper Station Camp Creek Road had been notified of the county’s plans to construct a sewer system along Station Camp Creek behind their homes, along with a green way. When they objected, the green way plans were tabled. The utility district then sent landowners a revised easement agreement for the sewer system that referred to the possibility of condemnation if an agreement was not reached by a certain date. After the deadline passed, the condemnation letters were sent.
The sewer line affects 16 property owners, according to Noelle Mashburn, director of communications for the White House Utility District. Nine owners declined the easement offer or did not respond by the deadline and have been served condemnation letters, she added.
Mashburn said that the sewer line for Liberty Creek Schools is being installed by the county and Board of Education and not the utility district.
“We don’t typically install new infrastructure; it’s initiated and funded by developers (this could be an individual land owner, developer, government, etc.),” she said.
Mashburn also said that the project is fully funded by the county and school board – including easement acquisition costs and associated fees.
The utility district has the right to exercise the power of eminent domain under the laws of the state of Tennessee for the proposed sanitary sewer main project, according to a Petition for Condemnation filed Sept. 4 in Sumner County Circuit Court against land owners Deborah and Jimmy Holmes.
Deborah Holmes says the two have hired an attorney to fight the condemnation. Holmes, who is being offered $3,575 for a little more than two acres, says there are several reasons she and others are resisting.
“One of the main reasons is that the county is publicly funding an amenity for future development in this area and it’s not necessary,” she said. “Spending money for a sewer system that is for developers is not good spending.”
Holmes argues that several people have asked that a cost analysis be done for putting sewers down the road – a location that is closer to homes and where the county already has easements – versus along the creek that routinely floods.
Area residents have also said that an 8-inch pipe is adequate for the area rather than the proposed 15-inch pipe that would benefit developers.
“We have asked several times for a third party to do an independent study to look for the most cost effective and efficient route,” she said. “I feel like nothing else was considered.”
According to Mashburn, the project was designed by the county/school board’s engineer and was approved by the utility district’s engineering department. The project was approved by TDEC in December 2017.
“We don’t perform cost analysis on development projects,” said Mashburn. “This is the responsibility of the developer. Our concern is that it meets our design specs and is consistent with the existing infrastructure in our system.”
Sumner County Mayor Anthony Holt said the engineers decided where to locate the sewer system as well as the size of the pipe.
Holt added that the county is not doing anything any differently than when Station Camp schools were built.
“It’s just planning to put infrastructure in place,” he said. “We did this exactly when we built Station Camp. “It’s terrible to have to take their property but in the end it’s the only solution. You can’t undo this.”
A court date is set for Oct. 7.