The Marysville, Kansas Advocate provides an article in which the Clean Line Transmission Company discussed its Grain Belt Express transmission line through the county. Without giving any thought to logic, the writer simply notes that someone from the transmission company stated there is no damage to the remainder created with transmission lines. Does the article recognize reality at all? He will have some very upset readers soon enough!
“Based on feedback from local communities, Grain Belt Express is willing to offer Kansas counties a Construction Mitigation Payment to offset the potential costs of additional county services required during construction. This payment will be based on linear miles of line constructed in the county. The Construction Mitigation Payment will be $7,500 per mile. This will be a one-time payment, which will be paid prior to construction as agreed by the county and Grain Belt Express Clean Line,” Lawlor wrote.
He emphasized the project will bring long-term property tax to the county and economic activity during construction.
Lawlor and Ally Smith, also with Clean Line, fielded questions from those in attendance after they answered questions from the commissioners.
“If the line is built here, every farm would lose value. So everyone in the county will have to pay more in taxes,” said Vernita Peeks, Marysville. “Why Marshall County? Why not follow the interstate?”
Lawlor said that the interstate creates a barrier, runs through populated areas and makes construction sites harder to access.
Lawlor said after the meeting that several studies show little to no effect on property values because of transmission.
“If they do, that’s what the payments are for,” he said.
Clean Line officials say they will make payments of “fair market value” to property owners on the route they choose.
Marshall County Attorney Laura Johnson-McNish said that when Clean Line gets the exact route and property holders have a better idea what’s happening to their land, they can write about any concerns to the Kansas Corporation Commission during the public comment phase of the route approval process.
The company indicates it will request approval from the KCC this summer.
Johnson-McNish said after the meeting that she intends to write another letter to the KCC from the county at that time.
“The KCC tells me they do pay attention to input from the public and it can make a difference,” she said.
If Clean Line’s proposed line is approved, landowners affected will have to sign easement agreements or the company will have the right of eminent domain as a public utility.
During Monday’s meeting, landowner Sonya Kee, Franfort, asked, “Will you require us to sign a confidentiality agreement when we sign the easement?”
“That is pretty typical,” Lawlor said.
Farmer Kurt McMillan, Home City, was worried about his liability in case he damaged a transmission pole while farming his land.
“If I damage a structure and repairs cost $7 million and I have a million dollars of liability coverage, who’s responsible for the difference of $6 million?”
Lawlor did not have a specific answer but said he would get back to McMillan after taking his contact information.
McMillan said he’d like to see the liability information in writing and as a part of the easement agreement.
Also expressing concern was Rick Strathman, who farms on the Nemaha-Marshall county line. Strathman raises hundreds of heifers for area dairies. He said pregnant cows in his confined feeding operation would be directly beneath one of the line’s possible routes.
Strathman asked Clean Line to guarantee there would be no harm from the line’s electro-magnetic field to his cattle.
Lawlor replied that studies haven’t shown livestock or humans were harmed by electro-magnetic fields. He handed out a sheet with references to those studies.