7th Generation Farmer Reaches Out To Community To Prevent Eminent Domain Grab Of TN Family Farm
Image Credit: mtjuliet-tn.gov
The Tennessee Conservative [By Paula Gomes] –
On Christmas day, a seventh generation farmer reached out to community members via social media pleading for support for his family’s farm in Mount Juliet, TN. The farm is one of three family owned farms in the area being threatened by an eminent domain grab if the city’s commission votes to approve a North to South bypass proposal running through privately owned farm land.
Andy Ligon, who also runs a business as an equine veterinarian, says that of three options outlined in the Western Connector Project, two directly affect his family’s farm.
“The farm in question is a keystone to our family’s farm operation,” Ligon told The Tennessee Conservative. “This farm feeds all of our livestock plus provides horse hay to the surrounding communities, while providing the majority of our income. Our family has continually farmed the same land since 1789.”
Ligon urged community members to fill out a comment card with a deadline of December 29th, 2022, and to contact city commissioners about the project.
Of the three options in the Northern Alignment Option, Options B and C run directly through the middle of Ligon’s farm. The third option widens South Greenhill Road, an already existing road.
“Running a bypass through this farm would absolutely devastate us. And we are not the only multi-generational farm that could be severely affected,” said Ligon. “The Tate family, marked Option C, and Spry Valley Farms, marked options E and K are both over 4 generations in continuous family farm production.”
The Tennessee Conservative reached out to Andy Barlow, Director of Public Works and Engineering, and Matthew White, Deputy Director of Public Works and Engineering, for comment but have not received a reply at the time of publication. We also contacted Mount Juliet City Commissioners for comment.
Scott Hefner, Mount Juliet Commissioner for District 3 said, “I will be focusing on routes that border property lines not those that cut through active farms.”
“I promised Mr. Ligon many years ago to help him protect his farm and I’ve promised the Tate family the same. I’m not breaking my promise to them,” said Ray Justice, Mount Juliet Commissioner for District 1 where the Ligon’s farm is located. “At some point, we have to realize there is a value associated with the history, as well as the obvious value of the farming function to the family that owns the property. I will be fighting to help them preserve the integrity of that history and keep their family’s land intact.”
Jennifer Milele, Mount Juliet Commissioner for District 4 said, “The Western Connector has been talked about for many years and it is needed to help relieve traffic congestion. The city makes every effort to work with property owners regarding right-of-way when these type projects come up. I personally feel Tate Lane is too close to N. Mt. Juliet Rd. and needs to be further west, connecting to S. Greenhill Rd.”
Wilson County has the highest number of Century Farms in the state. The Ligon’s farm was deeded as a Revolutionary War grant to Andy Ligon’s seventh-generation grandfather, Captain John Cloyd. The family’s original farmhouse, built in 1791, is listed in the National Register of Historical Places and the Wilson County Historic Driving Tour. His grandfather, Herschel Ligon, a World War II U.S. Army Major leading his company in the D-Day landing on Utah Beach was a lifelong advocate of agriculture and local farmers and was inducted into the Wilson County Agricultural Hall of Fame in 2008. Ligon’s father, Bill, was a dedicated high school agricultural teacher for 30 years.
Ligon says that the impact on wildlife in the city will be immense if a bypass is created through the middle of farmland, and that farmland within city limits is dwindling at an alarming rate due, in part, to the population growth in the area.
According to the 2020 Census, Mount Juliet is the 6th fastest growing city in Tennessee with a population of approximately 40 thousand and growing. The city added 15,618 residents between 2010 and 2020, an average of four people per day.
Ligon says that his family’s farm provides a safe haven for wildlife and that building a connector through the property will increase the number of traffic accidents due to head-on wildlife collisions as animals attempt to cross paths they have created for decades. Those who farm the land would also be placed in dangerous situations should the farm be divided.
“By dividing our farm, you create yet another highway we have to cross with large, slow-moving tractors, trailers, trucks, and farm equipment. Imagine the immense danger we are in while driving in fast moving, high traffic areas. Countless farmers are killed each year in traffic accidents.”
Mount Juliet Public Information Officer Justin Beasley has stated that the project is in the early planning stages and could take years to plan and complete.
About the Author: Paula Gomes is a Tennessee resident and reporter for The Tennessee Conservative. You can reach Paula at firstname.lastname@example.org.
4 thoughts on “7th Generation Farmer Reaches Out To Community To Prevent Eminent Domain Grab Of TN Family Farm”
I’m from the government and I want to help you said no government ever and mean it.
The farmers are only one vote each against an uncaring community. Follow the money and you’ll quickly learn who benefits and who doesn’t. I believe good lawyers could force the government to build overpasses where the farmers say they’ll be needed. Those things add a lot of expense to building a bypass and might cause a change of heart. Otherwise, sorry farmers, you lose. The desire of the powers that be to expand the growth of Mt. Juliet will win out.
Consideration should be given to not displacing a family farmer and his farm. More roads and strip malls are not the best answer. We need to preserve a little bit of our heritage rather than putting asphalt over the whole world!
Dr Andy Ligon, DVM, is in the uncomfortable position of having only his own family’s votes as leverage against the city commission. The route that does not affect his property runs thru areas containing many more votes, so the politicians, always mindful of their own skins and not Right Principles, will do what is least harmful to them. Sorry, Dr, as someone else posted, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help me, NOT YOU!!”