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Commissioner losing busines to road work

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POSTED: July 26, 2007 5:02 a.m.
Liberty County Commissioner Pat Bowen will soon lose his business to bulldozers — a result of the widening of Highway 196 east.
Since the highway will double in width, R.B. Bakes construction will be knocking down impediments (like trees, houses and buildings) to clear the way for the new lanes, construction manager Trace Martell said.
An engineering firm is working in conjunction with Baker and the Georgia Department of Transportation to settle with property owners who are being affected by the road work.
But Bowen said he believes his business, Fleming Short Cut, which is co-owned with Rogers’ Tree Service, is not receiving a fair settlement amount.
In these cases, the state may use the right of eminent domain for the greater good of the community, and in this case they are trying to make a somewhat hazardous highway safer, Martell said.
He noted the state hires firms to make fair market assessments, and sometimes they will negotiate on settlements.
To demolish his business and rebuild it, Bowen has projected it will cost $800,000 and said the settlement would only cover a fraction of that cost.
Bowen and co-owner David Rogers are appealing the settlement.
“To install new (gas) tanks, it will cost anywhere from $250,000 to $300,000, and that does not even include a new building or parking lot,” Bowen said.
Rogers’ Tree Service was built in 1992, and paid off in 2004, and Bowen said he and Rogers were just starting to see profits from the store.
“We were going to use that store to supplement our retirement, but now we’re unsure of how this move might affect us financially,” Bowen said. “If we are still not pleased after the appeal, we plan to go to court to try and get the amount of money we think we deserve.”
 

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