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Locals Sound Off on CAPX2020 Project

Updated: 08/17/2014 10:52 PM
Created: 08/17/2014 9:40 PM KAALtv.com
By: Hannah Tran

(ABC 6 News) -- Take a few steps from the home of Michael Collins in Oronoco and in a matter of seconds, the landscape goes from a picture perfect, cozy backyard to a bare patch of ground with an industrial vibe.

"This was all cornfield right here, they really came through and ripped it apart, you can see that," said Collins.

As he looked into the distance, Collins mentioned a neighbor that's trying to duck out from being underneath the high-voltage towers that line County Road 12 around Oronoco. They're one of many that course through Minnesota, the Dakotas, and Wisconsin.

"It goes from Fargo, down to the metro, then it goes from Brookings, South Dakota, to the Hampton substation, and down to Lacrosse," said Carol Overland, an attorney who has represented landowners against CapX2020 for many years.

"It's huge, thousands and thousands of landowners are affected and the utilities keep challenging them," said Overland.

That challenge is the "Buy the Farm" law, something that a neighbor of Collins is considering to use. Landowners have a legal right to force a buyout by the utility.

Overland elaborated that "it's not just buying the farm, but they also get relocation expenses."

Owners of a dairy farm in New Prague succeeded with the law. It's been around for some time, but that recent triumph in New Prague may shed more light on this right.

"This will make it easier for other land owners in the future to be able to elect by the farm, without having that kind of challenge from the utilities," said Overland.

Michael Collins isn't going anywhere, he's been here for decades, but someone else may do their best to be as many steps away from these towers as possible.

Locals voice out their thoughts on "Buy the Farm" law. After a judge's decision concerning a New Prague couple last Friday, they are learning more about a possibility of a buyout by the utility.