Fayette County Commissioner Allen McCarty wants the county to take an additional step toward compensating property owners along the route of the West Fayetteville Bypass.
The concept is that in addition to paying for the property acquisition, the county also should take the percentage of the lot’s size to calculate the amount needed to “pay off” that portion of the homeowner’s mortgage.
The matter will be discussed Wednesday at the commission’s 3:30 p.m. workshop meeting at the county’s Stonewall government complex in downtown Fayetteville.
McCarty said one resident in the path of the bypass stands be in the hole $20,000 because the county is not offering to compensate her based on how much she owes on the home. Because the county is offering “fair market values” in a depressed real estate market, some residents may find themselves in the same boat: paying mortgages or other debts on properties and houses they no longer own.
“The county should not consider taking a person’s property if we can’t make them whole,” McCarty said.. “… How do they pay a mortgage on a house they no longer own?”
When such matters go to court, the main concern of the court is “making the property owner whole,” McCarty said. If the county fails to do so, it will be damaging its residents, he added.
“If we do things the right way, we’re not going to have the objection of citizens to what we’re doing,” McCarty said. “… I’m not trying to stop the bypass, but if we’re going to take things from people, they need to walk away whole and complete, not damaged.”
It is not immediately clear what the fiscal impact of such a policy would be, nor whether the county would be able to retroactively make such an additional payment to property owners who already have settled their cases with the county.
The county is using proceeds from the five-year transportation sales tax to fund land acquisition and road construction for the bypass.
McCarty said he also is concerned about fluctuation in the prices homeowners are being paid for property the county needs for the bypass.
“One person might get $13,000 an acre, another might get $25,000 an acre,” McCarty said. “I think we need to establish a value of replacement for all, not just one or two people.”
McCarty said he plans to look into how other property owners are being treated by the county as it continues the land acquisition process for the second phase of the bypass. This portion of the road will run from the current bypass terminus on Sandy Creek Road to the intersection of Ga. Highway 92 and Westbridge Road.
The West Fayetteville Bypass has drawn criticism from residents as an unnecessary road. Once the third phase is complete several years down the road, it will stretch from Ga. Highway 85 south at Harp Road all the way up to Hwy. 92 at Westbridge Road.
The road has been defended as providing a more direct route to Ga. Highway 138 and Interstate 85, the latter of which doesn’t come through Fayette County at all.