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Old Fourth Ward residents allege ‘bullying’ from Georgia Power

Potential Georgia Power expansion threatening homes in Old Fourth Ward
Published: May. 11, 2022 at 6:31 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - Some neighbors in Old Fourth Ward say they’re being bullied out of their homes by Georgia Power.

Derek Matory, a resident on Wabash Avenue, received a letter from the company in October stating it would “make every reasonable effort to acquire” his property.

“Eminent domain was mentioned as an end result if I was unwilling to sell my property,” said Matory.

Georgia Power is expanding its substation on Boulevard Northeast to make infrastructure improvements and better serve its customers. The company denies threatening eminent domain over any home on the block; however, a spokesperson could not say for certain whether it is a future possibility.

“Georgia Power has the ability under existing law when it’s required to serve the larger public good,” said John Kraft, speaking on behalf of Georgia Power. “This is exceedingly rare -- less than one in a thousand cases.”

Matory believes he’s the only homeowner on the block adjacent to the existing Georgia Power structure who has not agreed to sell his property. He says if he agrees to sell or is forced out of his home, he likely will move out of Atlanta.

“Given the cost, I’d have to relocate outside the perimeter,” he said. “It seems like a David versus Goliath situation.”

Matory’s neighbors across the street share frustration – even though their homes are not directly at risk.

Hero Thompson has lived on the street since the 90s. He said he heard about the expansion from his neighbors across the street. Thompson and several of his others on the street share frustration over the lack of communication from Georgia Power.

“How do you get through to Georgia Power-ful?” said Thompson. “It will impact my asset.”

Thompson, Matory, and other residents say long-time neighbors and historic homes will be gone, property values will decrease, and opportunities for crime will rise if the expansion goes through.

“There’s not eyes coming out of these houses anymore,” explained Thompson.

Atlanta City Councilman Amir Farohki said he plans to meet with Georgia Power and nearby residents. Councilman Farohki sent the following statement to CBS46:

“Community meetings by Georgia Power are forthcoming. I look forward to working with Georgia Power and residents to create the best design and end product for the neighborhood.

It’s important to note that Georgia Power has been granted near-full power by the state to expand substations and that cities are preempted by the State law from infringing on that right. The local tools are limited to collaboration with GA Power and community engagement toward the best approach for a substation in a neighborhood.”