County reser­voir con­dem­na­tion case set­tled

Lone hold­out agrees to $800k set­tle­ment for prop­erty

The Covington News - - News - GABRIEL KHOULI Staff Re­porter

The long­stand­ing land con­dem­na­tion case be­tween New­ton County and Em­mett Denby, the lone re­main­ing res­i­dent to live on land planned for the fu­ture Bear Creek Reser­voir, was de­cided this week in Su­pe­rior Court when the county was or­dered to pay Denby $800,000 for his prop­erty.

The court or­der was not yet avail­able, but Scott Peters, the At­lanta-based lawyer con­tracted by New­ton County, con­firmed Thurs­day that the ver­dict was for the county to pay Denby $800,000 for his 4.08 acre par­cel of land at 3124 Hen­der­son Mill Rd.

Peters said he and Denby’s at­tor­ney, Ken­neth Levy, are still work­ing

out the final de­tails of the agree­ment.

Although the sale price was agreed upon in court, Peters said the county al­ready tech­ni­cally has owned the land for sev­eral years. Em­mett and Rhonda Denby will be al­lowed to stay on their land un­til New­ton County ob­tains its Sec­tion 404 water per­mit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“Tech­ni­cally, the prop­erty has al­ready be­longed to the county for sev­eral years, but as an accommodation to the Den­bys, they’ve been al­lowed to stay there,” Peters said Thurs­day. “The county took the at­ti­tude that it needed to ac­quire the prop­erty and have ti­tle to it, but they were cer­tainly un­der­stand­ing of the fact that was the Denby’s home and they have some chil­dren go­ing to school there, so (the county was) try­ing to be as ac­com­mo­dat­ing as pos­si­ble.”

Peters said he could not com­ment on the specifics of the case, and Levy did not re­turn a phone call seek­ing com­ment Thurs­day.

Ac­cord­ing to court records, the county orig­i­nally tried to con­demn Denby’s prop­erty in 2002, but the case was dropped be­cause of in­ac­tion in 2006. The county then re­filled its con­dem­na­tion case in 2008.

Ac­cord­ing to a pre­vi­ous Dec. 29, 2008 ar­ti­cle in The Cov­ing­ton News, “Denby has been an op­po­nent of the Bear Creek Reser­voir for more than a decade and has re­fused to sell his land to the county to make way for the reser­voir. The land owned by the Den­bys is the last bit of land that the county re­quires for the 1,242 acre reser­voir, which is still await­ing a con­struc­tion per­mit from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers.”

The county is still await­ing a per­mit, as of the last public up­date given by the county at­tor­ney’s of­fice.

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