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United States ex rel. Tennessee Valley Authority v. A Temporary Right to Enter

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Winchester

June 13, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA EX REL. TENNESSEE VALLEY AUTHORITY
v.
A TEMPORARY RIGHT TO ENTER, ETC., MELISSA C. ROGERS UNITED STATES OF AMERICA EX REL. TENNESSEE VALLEY AUTHORITY
v.
AN EASEMENT AND RIGHT-OF-WAY, ETC., MELISSA C. ROGERS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER: FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW FOR NONJURY TRIAL

          HARRY S. MATTICE, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter proceeded to a bench trial before the undersigned in Chattanooga, Tennessee on June 13, 2017. Based on the following findings of fact and conclusions of law, the Court finds that Defendant Melissa C. Rogers is entitled to just compensation in the amount herein discussed for the Government's acquisition of temporary and permanent easements and rights-of-way over the subject property. Separate judgments will issue accordingly.

         FINDINGS OF FACT

         1. These consolidated actions arise from the Government's acquisition of easements (temporary and permanent) and rights-of-way over a single parcel of property consisting of approximately two acres in Van Buren County, Tennessee (“subject property”).

         2. Defendant Melissa C. Rogers owns the subject property in fee by virtue of a deed recorded in Deed Book WD4, page 535, in the office of the Register of Deeds of Van Buren County, Tennessee. (PX 4.)

         3. The subject property is located in Spencer, Tennessee and is identified by the Van Buren County Tax Assessors Office as: Melissa C. Rogers, 259 Seitz Street, Spencer, Tennessee 38585 Tax Map 30, Parcel 13.01. (Assessor of Property-Property Record Card for Tax Map Parcel 030 013.01 (Tax Year 2016), Plaintiff's Exhibit (“PX”) 10.) The subject property is improved with an approximately 480 square foot single family residence with an unfinished basement. (Id. at “Dwelling Data.”)

         4. Plaintiff's Exhibit 26 (Attach. 1) is a map depicting the subject property and the permanent transmission line easement and right-of-way.

         Temporary Right to Enter Case

         5. On December 12, 2014, Plaintiff United States of America upon the relation of and for the use of the Tennessee Valley Authority filed Case No. 4:14-CV-00085-HSM-SKL (“85 Case”), a condemnation action for the taking of a temporary easement on the subject property.[1]

         6. The public use for which the property was taken is the “conducting of surveys, core drilling, appraisals, title investigations, and related activities for the acquisition of a [permanent transmission line easement and right-of-way]” (“survey and siting activities”). (85 Case Compl. ¶ 3, Doc. 1 at PageID 1.) The temporary right taken is the right to enter on the subject property to perform survey and siting activities “to determine what portion of said land or interest therein is necessary for the erection, operations, and maintenance of electric power transmission circuits.” (85 Case Compl. ¶ 4, Doc. 1 at PageID 1-2.)

         7. On December 16, 2014, the Court entered an Order of Possession granting Plaintiff a temporary right to enter onto the subject property (85 Case, Doc. 5). Plaintiff completed its survey and siting activities on the subject property in 2015.

         Permanent Transmission Line Easements and Rights-of-Way Case

         8. On March 29, 2016, Plaintiff filed Case No. 4:16-CV-00025 (“25 Case”), a separate condemnation action for a permanent transmission line easement and right-of-way on the subject property.

         9. The public use for which the property was taken is the erection, operation, and maintenance of electric power transmission circuits and communication circuits. (25 Case Compl. ¶ 3, Doc. 1 at PageID 1.) The permanent rights taken in the 25 Case are as follows:

A permanent easement and right-of-way, consisting of the perpetual right to enter and to erect, maintain, repair, rebuild, operate, and patrol lines of transmission line structures with sufficient wires and cables for electric power circuits and communication circuits, and all necessary appurtenances, including guy wires, in, on, over, and across said right-of-way, together with the right to clear said right-of-way and keep the same clear of all trees, brush, buildings, signboards, billboards, and fire hazards, to destroy or otherwise dispose of such trees and brush, and to remove, destroy, or otherwise dispose of any trees located beyond the limits of said right-of-way which in falling could come within five feet of any transmission line structure or conductor located thereon, the Tennessee Valley Authority to remain liable for any direct physical damage to the land, annual crops, fences, and roads resulting directly from the operations of the construction and maintenance forces of the Tennessee Valley Authority in and about the erection and maintenance thereof, all upon, under, over, and across the following-described land:
TRACT NO. WBNTS-21
A parcel of land located in the First Civil District of Van Buren County, State of Tennessee, as shown on a map entitled “Watts Bar - Nashville Transmission Line Tap to Spencer, Tenn., ” drawing LW-2250, sheet P18A, R.1, a reduced scale copy of which is attached to the Declaration of Taking filed herein, the said parcel being more particularly described as follows:
Commencing at a painted T-Post found, a common corner to the Sietz Street right-of-way line, Anthony J. Foltz (Deed Book RB67, Page 859) and Melissa C. Rogers (Deed Book WD4, Page 535), the said point being 48.79 feet right of the centerline of the location at survey station 180.55 and being the Point of Beginning.
Thence leaving the Point of Beginning and along the eastern property line of Anthony J. Foltz N. 03° 08' 16" E., 255.69 feet to a point in the property line of Melissa C. Rogers; thence with said property line S. 58° 33' 09" E., 40.38 feet to a point on the centerline of the location at survey station 178.38 (rounded to 178.4 on the aforesaid drawing); thence continuing with said property line S. 58° 33' 09" E., 58.66 feet to a point in the right-of-way line of the location; thence S. 00° 05' 01" E., 269.49 feet to a point in the Sietz Street right-of way line, the said point being 50 feet left of the centerline of the location at survey station 181.55; thence with the meanders of said road right-of-way line in a northwesterly direction 61.89 feet to a point on the centerline of the location at survey station 180.38; thence continuing with said road right-of-way line 57.19 feet to the Point of Beginning and containing 0.56 acre, more or less. Furthermore, the above-described easement rights are ...

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