Gwinnett County officials are planning to use eminent domain to acquire two adjacent pieces of property next to the Maguire-Livsey House, also known as “The Big House,”
which they purchased six and a half years ago with plans to turn it into a historical park. The Livsey family, which owns the two properties, has accused the county of lowballing them on the purchase price, and some members of the family and their supporters see the county’s move as a racially motivated attempt to take the properties from a black family rather than pay them a fair price for it. The county has been trying to buy the two properties for four years, and discussions have recently taken place to acquire them at the appraised fair market values. However, the Livsey family has refused to sell the properties. The two properties in question include a quadplex at 4540 Lee Road in Snellville, and another property with a large lake, which contains 7.66 acres of land.
The dispute over the use of eminent domain to acquire the Livsey family’s property for the historical park has sparked controversy and racial tensions. Some see the move as an attempt to take property from a prominent Black family rather than offering them a fair price for it. The Livseys, who have lived in the area for almost two centuries, have been vocal in their opposition to the county’s lowball offer.
The controversy has gained national attention, with civil rights groups and activists joining the Livsey family in their fight against the use of eminent domain. They argue that the use of this power is often used to displace communities of color and low-income families, and that the Livseys’ situation is no different.
The Livsey family has also accused county officials of trying to take advantage of Thomas Livsey’s declining health and dementia during negotiations. They claim that the county was aware of his condition and continued to negotiate with him anyway.
The Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners is set to vote on whether to use eminent domain to acquire the Livseys’ property at their public hearing meeting on April 25. The Livsey family is determined to fight the county’s use of eminent domain and retain their property. They have retained a real estate attorney to help them in their legal battle.
The dispute over the Livseys’ property highlights the ongoing struggle for Black families to maintain ownership and control over their land and property. The Livseys’ fight is an example of the larger struggle for economic and racial justice in the United States, and their story has resonated with many who see it as emblematic of the larger fight against systemic racism and economic inequality.