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Ford County landowners fight to keep property

Mid-Kansas Electric Company needs more than 100 acres of land in Ford County to complete a transmission line project. The 100 foot wide corridor would run from Fort Dodge to Spearville, and would use land from at least 28 separate property owners.

“[They’re] taking away a property interest,” said attorney for the landowners Andrew Stein.

The landowners are seeking to stop Mid-Kansas Electric, saying the company can only use eminent domain if the community impacted by the land loss will benefit from services offered.

“What are these transmission lines going to be used for, what energy?” asked Stein. “Is it energy, in fact, to support the existing grid in the area, or is it for the purpose of transmitting power elsewhere?”

Mid-Kansas has not made it clear where the wind power carried by this transmission line will go. They did give KSN this statement: “With each transmission project, Mid-Kansas strives to control costs that are ultimately paid through electric rates across the entire cooperative membership while offering fair market value for right-of-way easements. At today’s hearing, three independent appraisers—all residents of Ford County, as required by Kansas law—were appointed by the judge to determine fair market value of the easements. As always, Mid-Kansas will continue to follow the established process.”

Landowners said they’re concerned a loss of land would have a major impact on their bottom line, affecting farming and ranching operations.

“Depending on what the land is previously being used for, there’s questions as to what the land can continue to be used for after that,” Stein said.

If the injunction fails they’re worried the compensation won’t be nearly enough to make up for money lost in farming practices.

In court Tuesday, both sides worked to choose land appraisers to come up with a fair price. Three Ford County locals were appointed, two were suggested by Mid-Kansas and one by a landowner.

“They will have an instructed order from the court, regarding the nature of their assignment,” said Hon. Van Hampton, District Judge.

The appraisers will have 45 days to come up with a dollar amount.