Anderson family fights for property amid city construction - FOX Carolina 21

Anderson family fights for property amid city construction

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Construction on Anderson family's property (June 20, 2017/FOX Carolina) Construction on Anderson family's property (June 20, 2017/FOX Carolina)
ANDERSON, SC (FOX Carolina) -

An Upstate family feels like they have been run over by construction crews in Anderson.

Tonya Winbush took a walk through her property on Kings Road and as she looked at it with pride, she said it's also painful to see what's happened.

"Our property was purchased in 1912 by my great grandfather Perry Mattison," she said. "It's like a part of us. When we got here and we saw the devastation, all I could do was cry."

Sounds of bulldozers and crashing trees woke her family last Thursday. They walked to the property and found a construction crew, cleared land and downed trees.

"A lot of people think, oh it's just a piece of land, oh you can get some money but it's been with our family since 1912," Winbush said.

The City of Anderson plans to put a sewer line through two sections of the property. The Winbush family says the city already started the work. The city will use .64 acres for the line and less than an acre for the right-of-way.

"We know  eminent domain, we know that always that if you have property and if we have a need of it, we can take it," Winbush said.

Under the South Carolina Eminent Domain Law, the government has power to acquire private property for public use.

"We haven't even got a day in court to negotiate to even say what we want so that someone can say well this is fair or this is not fair," Winbush said.

She says she and her family didn't come to an agreement and thought the city put negotiations on hold and would notify them of a court date before construction to their property. 

"They did not tell anybody," Winbush said. "They did not tell us, warn us, they didn't tell the lawyer."

However, the Anderson city attorney says the family may not understand the process. He said the family was notified and they negotiated for a year and a half

So, Winbush says she will continue to take steps to fight. 

"We want our day in court. We feel violated," she said.

The Winbush family says they never wanted the city to take their land, but when they realized it would probably happen - they wanted a compromise. They wanted the sewer line placed on the other side of power lines and not through the middle of the property, but they say city representative told them it would be too expensive to do that.

Anderson city's lawyer said the family can still develop the property, as long as they develop at least 25 feet away from each side of the sewer line. The city offered the family $49,000 and they rejected it.

The Winbush family says they received a letter of condemnation of the property back in March. A condemnation order must be in place in order for a government agency to take private property.

Some lawyers tell FOX Carolina a condemnation notice is notice enough that the city owns the property and can begin construction whenever it wants. However, the Winbush family doesn't agree and will head to court. It also still has to be determined how much the city will pay the family for the land. 

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