Court rules against KCP&L on power line fight with farmers - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Court rules against KCP&L on power line fight with farmers

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PLATTE COUNTY, MO (KCTV) -

Kansas City Power and Light Company wanted the land to run a massive power line from a new power plant, but the landowners said "not so fast."

It's a case some may call David against Goliath. Farmers fought a large company for their land and won, for now.

When KCP&L wanted to buy an acre of Chris Dutoit's family farm to put in a transmission line, he was hesitant.

"We had one farmer - his home was right here instead of the power line going right here - it goes clear across right down the middle of his property," Dutoit said.

KCP&L asked for the easement rights to nearly 60 farmers' properties in Platte and Clay counties. Power Line No. 62 would run from the Iatan plant to Nashua.

But many of those farmers said no. They were concerned about the sheer size of the power lines, the electromagnetic fields affecting weather equipment and the points of the power lines running above liquid petroleum lines in the ground.

"If, for any reason, the power line should spring a leak ... the lines sag or are too hot, electricity comes down, hits that petroleum line, it just doesn't blow up there, it goes 'boom, boom, boom, boom,'" Dutoit said.

They're not talking about power lines that people normally see in their front yard, they're looking at very large power lines like one would see along a highway.

KCP&L officials took the farmers and homeowners to court and asked that their land be condemned in order to claim the rights. They argued the route in question was best for the community.

Dutoit and the other farmers pooled their money to hire four attorneys against KCP&L.

"What you know in the back of your mind is they are probably going to beat you, but this is one time that the little guy, as of right now, has won," he said.

After a two-year battle and many court filings, a Platte County judge dismissed KCP&L's filing for condemnation. The judge decided that KCP&L did not negotiate in good faith. One reason is that they didn't offer fair appraisals for the land.

"They (the farmers) love their land, they bought their land, they work it, pray for rain, pray for the sun," Dutoit said. "That's their life and, for these folks, these big corporations to come in and take their land and just pay them pennies on the dollar. I know it happens all over the country, but it's not right."

KCTV5 asked for an interview with KCP&L. They declined but sent this statement:

"It has always been our intention to follow proper processes throughout this project and we believe that we have done that. Because of that we disagree with the judge's findings and are analyzing our options for moving forward."

Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.)  All rights reserved.

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