He also has a fear that if the owners refuse to go along, Wabash might resort to force.
“I pushed hard to find out, is this just a whim and if property owners go along, we’ll do it and if not, we won’t?” he said. “Finally, the last 15 minutes of the call, after enough pressure was put on, they said, ‘Well, sure we want to do it voluntarily, but eminent domain’s not off the table.’ That, to me, was a huge red flag. This is a whole different ball game.”
The three said they understood questions at the web forum were screened, with Wabash personnel picking which ones they would answer, and that participants were cut off and muted during questioning.
Parker said she has lived in her home since 1999 and that power is more reliable today that it was then.
One of the reasons Wabash listed for the project was “economic development,” another vague term.
“Show me the need,” Bartek said. He added that an attorney he consulted said that economic development itself would not likely stand up in court if imminent domain were sought.
“I’m not saying we can’t be convinced,” Bartek said. “Bring me the data in a face-to-face public meeting.”
Nelson later added that the county has some “big buildings” where live meetings could be held, while observing social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I like to meet people face-to-face,” he said.