As president of the Ooltewah-based Morning Pointe Senior Living over the past 33 years, Greg Vital has developed more than 30 senior housing projects across the Southeast, working and communicating with property owners and city and county officials in dozens of cities.
But as a Georgetown landowner, Vital says he saw no such communication or attempt to work with local landowners from the Tennessee Valley Authority when it decided to build a $300 million power control facility in rural southern Meigs County and extend high-voltage transmission lines over private property owned by Vital and three of his neighbors.
TVA's project, code-named "Project Viper," was nearly four years in the making before TVA disclosed its plans and initiated legal action to use its eminent domain to acquire property rights for its power lines to the new load control center.
"The behavior we have witnessed since TVA intentionally misled the Georgetown community in August of last year about Project Viper is that of an arrogant, paranoid, disrespectful bully who could care less about private property rights, regular citizens or the land," Vital told the TVA board Wednesday night during a public listening session in Chattanooga. "TVA has a long history of trampling over landowners and abusing property rights, while hiding behind the TVA Act of 1933."
Vital appealed to the TVA directors and executives to come to Georgetown and meet with local residents before the agency builds its new power facility, which will replace the control center now located in the basement of the Missionary Ridge building in TVA's Chattanooga Office Complex.
Vital said after the meeting that he doubts TVA will respond to his request for TVA leadership to come to Georgetown.
"Honestly, I don't believe they have the courage to come," said Vital. "These people can't fulfill one of the basic requirements of government transparency, which is a willingness to talk to its customers."
TVA cut short Vital's comments to the TVA board Wednesday when he exceeded his 3-minute time allotment, but Vital said he appeared to be the only one of nine speakers that went longer than three minutes who was actually cut off during the public hearing.
Last August, TVA conducted a public hearing with residents in the Georgetown area to outline its plans for the power center, which TV plans to build on a 167-acre site in south Meigs County which TVA acquired in 2017.
TVA spokesman Scott Fiedler said the agency is not trying to buy the property of Vital or his neighbors, who Vital said include a woman in her 90s and another man with Alzheimer's. Fiedler said the federal utility is simply acquiring an easement to run about a mile of its transmission line over the affected properties and will pay the landowners what is determined to be the fair market value for such action.
The new Meigs County power control center served by the new power line will be located in a more secure area than the current downtown facility and a new facility will allow TVA to install newer equipment for improving how TVA dispatches and controls power across its 7-state area, TVA vice president Paul Melda said.
Contact Dave Flessner at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 757-6340