Gwinnett County

Gwinnett commissioners won’t look at eminent domain action in ‘Promised Land’ battle

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — The Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners will not move forward with an eminent domain resolution to buy property for a historic park in the “Promised Land” community.

“We are grateful for everyone that stood beside us as we fought for our past, present, and future in the Promised Land. I have a weight lifted off by hearing the news from Gwinnett County. We will remain cautiously optimistic while moving forward,” said Chad Livsey, whose great-grandfather is among the freed slaves that purchased the plantation land following the Civil War.

Channel 2 Action News at 4:00 p.m. on Thursday first told you about the battle over the land.

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Livsey told Channel 2′s Tom Regan that his grandfather Thomas Livsey Sr. and his grandmother sold the historic Maguire-Livsey Big House at the Promised Land, and the property surrounding it, to Gwinnett County in 2017.

County leaders have been pushing to acquire another 10 acres to create a historic park and greenspace. Livsey said the county made an offer for $250,000. He believes it’s worth several million dollars and that his family is already making good use of it.

“We have a farm that we started. We have food drives, campouts. We do a lot of things for the community,” Livsey said.

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In an agenda for an upcoming meeting on April 25, Gwinnett County commissioners were set to discuss a resolution to exercise eminent domain over the property.

Eminent domain is a practice that allows local governments to seize private property and convert it for public use.

But on Friday, the county announced it won’t be moving forward with the resolution proceedings and sent the following statement to Channel 2.

“We appreciate and understand the reactions brought forth by members of the Livsey family and the community regarding the legal notice of the potential use of eminent domain by the County to acquire properties owned by Thomas Livsey Sr. and his wife. We want to emphasize that while no decision has been made, we are not in favor of any legal process that hinders the legacy or wishes of the Livsey family. Based upon our collective desire to work with Mr. Livsey Sr. and his family as to this property, the County will not move forward with taking formal action on the eminent domain proceedings on April 25.”

The board added that it respects the Livsey’s family’s rights as a private landowner and it wants to “reach a joint decision about how best to support the vision and wishes of Mr. Livsey Sr. and his family for the future use of this property.”

Channel 2 Action News has reached out to the Livsey family for their response to the county’s Friday announcement.

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