Residents relieved after GDOT says no to Palmetto Pipeline

Residents relieved after GDOT says no to Palmetto Pipeline

BURKE COUNTY, GA (WFXG) - The Georgia Department of Transportation won't allow a company to seize privately-owned land in order to build a pipeline that would stretch from South Carolina to north Florida.

To Kinder Morgan, the company that wants to build the pipeline, these were just pieces of land that they said could have made a huge difference in Georgia's fuel consumption. But for some residents, their land holds a lot value and importance, and they don't want anyone taking it from them.

"The property was passed on down from my great grandparents on down to my mother's side of the family," said Thomas Miller Saxon. "After she passed away, she passed it on down to her children. And we're just looking after it now and just hoping we could keep it in the family."

For more than three months, residents like Saxon have been attending meetings, signing petitions and protesting the $1 billion Palmetto Pipeline project.

"After that, we really didn't hear nothing else until they started having meetings on it, and I went to those, and they just basically said the same thing over and over and wouldn't guarantee us anything," Saxon said.

Kinder Morgan wanted the Georgia Department of Transportation to allow them to seize privately-owned land through eminent domain in order to build the pipeline, but the company's request was denied.

Saxon's land may look empty for now, but his future plans for the land would have gone down the drain due to this pipeline.

"The value of the land would really go down, because if we ever had to sell the land, no one would want to buy it to build no home on it or anything," Saxon said. "It'll just be an open field back in the woods."

Saxon's property sits a mile and a half from the Savannah River. Being that his land primarily supports tractors and cattle, his heavy equipment could have damaged the pipes.

"Fifty-foot pipes going through there and you'll have to pay taxes on it and they get to benefit from all the pipelines running through there," Saxon said.

Today, GDOT denied the company's request for a certificate of public convenience and necessity that would have allowed them to invoke eminent domain. And although this was great news to many, Saxon says he hopes that this would be the final decision and that Kinder Morgan doesn't appeal GDOT's decision.

"The decision they made, I still hope they don't appeal it," Saxon said. "But if they do, I just hope they listen to the land owners. 95 percent of the land owners was against it and it probably affects a lot of them more than it affects me."

Saxon said that this has been the first time he has ever had to defend his land and he certainly hopes that this will be the last.

Copyright 2015 WFXG. All rights reserved.