ATLANTA — The Georgia Supreme Court of Georgia has reversed a lower court’s decision and ruled in favor of a developer in a dispute over who is the rightful owner of property in Bacon County seized by eminent domain 40 years ago: the developer who bought the land in 2010 from the Bacon County Development Authority or the heirs of the man who owned the property at the time it was condemned.
In 1968, the city of Alma was selected by the federal government to receive funds under the Model Cities Program, which was designed to combat the negative effects of slums and blighted neighborhoods. Alma officials developed a plan with four projects, one of which was the construction of a recreational lake to be named “Lake Alma.”
The other three projects — an industrial park, a waste water treatment plant, and improvement of the local airport — were eventually completed. In 1973, Bacon County exercised its power of eminent domain to acquire 2,522 acres of land for the lake project.
Included was “Tract 53,” which consisted of 95. 125 acres owned by Hoke S. Carter. The superior court awarded Carter $24,903 for his land and simultaneously awarded Bacon County title to all the lands condemned for Lake Alma, including Tract 53.
In 1985, the county granted a one-half interest in the Lake Alma tract to the city of Alma. The controversial Lake Alma project never made it past the planning stages as it was opposed by citizens, numerous environmental groups and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.