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ATXI defends new power line routes; Neighbors United still opposed

Despite new routes, a proposed power line project is still facing heavy opposition. (KTVO/Ashley Hoak)

Despite new routes, a proposed power line project is still facing heavy opposition.

"It's not a re-branding, it's a different project in design."

Those were the sentiments echoed by Ameren Transmission Company of Illinois (ATXI) officials.

Thursday night, an open house was held at William Matthew Middle School in Kirksville.

At that event, area landowners learned more about the new routes proposed in May.

A partnership with Northeast Power Cooperative would allow the Mark Twain Line to be constructed using almost 90 percent of existing right-of-way.

In addition, the proposed Zachary Substation would also be re-located to just north of the existing Adair Substation.

During the open house, it was clear ATXI officials believe the company is now on the right track to construct the line.

ATXI President Shawn Schukar says the company has had more open discussions with those that would be impacted by the line this time around, as opposed to when a different route was first proposed in 2014.

"We are still listening because we made many adjustments from what we heard before and we are continuing to do that. The three options that were included as a result of a discussion with the Adair County Commission is a result of us listening."

However, despite optimism from ATXI on the future of the proposed line progressing, local land owners are not giving up their fight.

Members from the opposition group, Neighbors United, as well as other impacted landowners were at the open house to make their voices heard.

Neighbors United members say they still feel this project isn't necessary or in the best interest in the state of Missouri.

In addition, ATXI must also receive permission from each county commission before line construction can begin.

Neighbors United members told KTVO they are staying opposed to this project for a variety of reasons.

They hope local commissioners will continue to stand their ground as well, due to past actions from ATXI.

"Ameren originally said that they could not build the line, or couldn't co-locate the line on the existing one that they are proposing now," said Neighbors United Member John Bambrick. "Now, they have changed their minds and have said yes, we can build this line. So, they lied to us. Ameren has not proven to be trustworthy."

ATXI officials say they will now take feedback from these open houses to finalize a route decision.

That route will then be taken to commissioners in each impacted county as well as the Missouri Public Service Commission.

If you weren't able to attend Thursday's open house in Kirksville, you still have another chance to learn about the project.

A similar meeting will be held Friday morning.

That open house will begin at 11:00 a.m. at the middle school gym in Schuyler County.

Doors for that open house will open at 10:00 a.m.

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