Lawyers say condemning Centerville public property is unconstitutional, violates client's rights

Dispute over Centerville private property

Tuesday night, the Centerville City Council passed a resolution condemning over 6 acres of private property that they want to use for a city park. 

The property belongs to an 80-year old resident, Ann Mason, and her lawyers say passing the resolution is unconstitutional and violates her rights.

Centerville's Director of Economic Development and Marketing, Kate Hogan, says the city already owns 8 acres for the park, but they're hoping to acquire Mason's land, too.

So they proposed a resolution to condemn her property for public use. 

On Tuesday night, a packed house listened to arguments from Mason's lawyer, Amy Griffith Dever. 

"In this case, the city has refused to purchase Ms. Mason's property for a fair value," says Dever. "You should not proceed with this resolution under these fatally flawed circumstances."

Dever says the resolution is unconstitutional and does not follow the requirements of Georgia's Landowner's Bill of Rights.

"Approval tonight of the resolution to condemn Ms. Mason's property will constitute unconstitutional action by the city, and violate Ms. Mason's rights under the US and Georgia constitutions, Georgia law, and also a violation of her rights to due process," says Dever. 

But, the council passed it anyway, only offering Mason $75,000 for her property.

"As I understand it, the city purchased approximately 8 acres from an adjacent property for $350,000," says Dever. 

On Monday, Mason's family told WMAZ she's previously been offered more than $1 million for her property from a developer to build apartments.

But they say the sale fell through because the city was opposed.

"The city has not acted in good faith in its negotiations and now you're going to try and force her to have her property condemned for an unreasonable price," says Dever. 

Dever says the resolution should not have been passed without reasonable effort to acquire Masons property by negotiation, and they plan to challenge the resolution in court.

Mason's attorneys say the council has 30 days to turn the "petition for condemnation" in to superior court. 

The city attorney would not speak to us about the case. 

© 2017 WMAZ-TV


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