The Union County Commissioners were asked to tell landowners on the Boardman to Hemingway proposed routes not to sign on the dotted line on Wednesday at their regularly scheduled meeting.
Charlie Gillis, a local attorney and the representative for the Stop B2H group, which has been working against the transmission line project proposed to run through Union County, asked the commissioners to follow the Baker County Commissioners’ example and have an attorney available to help landowners understand their rights.
According to a Baker City Herald article, the commissioners sent letters to landowners offering a partnership — with the county being a liaison of sorts.
“A constant suggestion made by landowners during this lengthy progression has been for (Baker) County to assume the lead in discussions on property acquisition for the line by Idaho Power should the line be approved,” the county’s letter to landowners states.
Baker County is prepared to negotiate with the power company on behalf of the landowners.
In Union County, Idaho Power has allegedly visited local landowners and asked them to sign contracts giving the power company access to their land once the transmission line project begins, according to Irene Gilbert, who is a member of Stop B2H.
“They’re acting like (the transmission line) is a done deal, and it’s really not,” Gilbert said.
She told the commissioners Wednesday that landowners need to be aware that the B2H project is still only a proposal.
“Our citizens need your help,” she said.
“Baker County seems to have conceded, though,” Commissioner Steve McClure replied.
McClure said he believes the county must not approach B2H as a finalized project and it’s important to ensure that Idaho Power doesn’t take advantage of landowners’ lack of awareness.
“My advice to them is not to sign anything,” he said. “As a property owner, you need to protect yourself.”
Commissioner Jack Howard agreed with McClure. However, he said the suggestions from the Stop B2H group may not be within the commissioners’ powers. Howard suggested talking to the Union County Planning Department and having the issue come to the commissioners through that channel.