Judge denies utility’s request to condemn

A Platte County judge has dismissed Kansas City Power and Light’s petition to condemn dozens of parcels of private property it seeks to acquire for construction of a proposed new power line from Iatan to Nashua. In a ruling filed Nov. 13, Platte County Judge James Van Amburg ruled that KCP&L’s petition should be dismissed primarily for two reasons: its intent to seek blanket easements, which have been ruled unlawful in Missouri; and because the utility did not negotiate in good faith when attempting to purchase the property in question from private landowners. Platte City attorney Keith Hicklin, who represented eight different property owners whose land KCP&L sought to condemn and acquire, said he and his clients were pleased with the court’s ruling. “I think the judge’s ruling was well-reasoned and consistent with the evidence,” he said. The legal battle was the latest in a war between KCP&L and landowners opposed to Power Line 62, which if built, would run northeast from Iatan, cross Highway M and parallel Highway H as it travels east. It would then cross both Interstate 29 and Highway EE before turning southeast into Clay County to a substation in Nashua. It would cross directly through New Market and just to the south of Dearborn. KCP&L officials say the Iatan-to-Nashua line is necessary to meet increased demand for electricity, improve reliability and provide future access to affordable power for KCP&L customers and other electric utility customers across Platte County and throughout the region. In the fall of 2011, a group of Platte County landowners formed Concerned Citizens Against KCP&L Segment 62. The Concerned Citizens group said the new line posed possible health concerns to area residents and threats to land values and the environment and suggested KCP&L should make improvements to its existing infrastructure instead of constructing a new line. It also suggested other route options would be more feasible and less costly to KCP&L customers.